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Preview: Flames vs. Avs

Monday, 19.03.2012 / 10:38 PM / Calgary Flames Budweiser Game Day
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Preview: Flames vs. Avs

FLAMES (34-26-13) at AVALANCHE (39-30-5)

TV: SNET-W (HD),ALT (HD)

Last 10: Calgary 6-2-2; Colorado 6-3-1.

Season Series: This will be the fifth game of a six-game season series between these Northwest Division rivals. So far, the Flames have dominated the season series winning all four games so far. In fact, Colorado has not defeated Calgary since Oct. 28, 2010.

Big Story: These teams will meet twice in the next 10 days starting, with Tuesday's match at the Pepsi Center. The points are crucial for both teams, who are separated by a mere two points in the division standings. Both teams are on the cusp of making the playoffs as Colorado has 83 points, but Calgary has one game in hand and 81 points.

Team Scope:

Flames: After rolling through the beginning of March with five straight victories, the Flames lost two crucial points to the Edmonton Oilers last Friday and then failed to pick up both points in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

"We're not satisfied," Matt Stajan said. "We're not here happy we got one point. We left a point on the table. That's our own fault. That's on us. There's nothing we can do now.

"We can't over-analyze. You learn from it. You move forward. We're in the situation we're in now."

With just nine games left in the regular season, the Flames will have to keep rolling however the eight of nine remaining games are against other Western Conference rivals that are also in, or near, playoff contention, so they won't be easy victories.

That being said, the Flames still have the ability to control their own fate, starting with Tuesday's game in Denver. The Flames have not lost in Denver since Dec. 13, 2009.

Avalanche: Colorado picked up five out of a possible six points on its three-game trip to the East last week, including two points from a hard-fought win against the East-leading New York Rangers on Saturday night.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 41 shots and Gabriel Landeskog tallied the game-winning goal at the 9:51 mark of the second period to lift the Avalanche over the Rangers, 3-1. Varlamov is 9-2-0 in his last 11 starts with a 1.35 goals-against average and .956 save percentage.

"Varly played excellent tonight. He was great in there," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "You look at the shot discrepancy (42-20) and it's pretty easy to figure out. Five power plays, 10 minutes of killing penalties. I thought 5-on-5, if we could've played the game more on that level, it would've been a little closer as far as that goes. The bottom line is we finished off a great road trip tonight."

Of Colorado's eight remaining games, seven are against opponents that are also in the playoff chase, including four games against division rivals.

Who's Hot: Matt Stajan has 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) in his last 13 games after picking up just six points in the season's first 39 games … Landeskog notched the game-winning goal for his team on Saturday and he leads the Avalanche in goals this season with 21.

Injury Report: The Flames are still without forwards Tim Jackman (upper body), Mike Cammalleri (upper body) and Mikael Backlund (arm), as well as defensemen Chris Butler (leg) and TJ Brodie (upper body)  … Avalanche forward Chuck Kobasew (back) hasn't played since Feb. 27.

Stat Pack: Colorado successfully killed off five penalties in Saturday's contest and the penalty kill unit has allowed only one man-advantage goal in the past nine games (20 of 21).

Puck Drop: "It's a team that we're fighting with, and it's going to be pivotal in the standings. They've got a really good team, I think. They have some really talented players and some guys that I think have gotten better as the course of the year has gone on. It's a pretty offensive team that plays pretty fast, skating type of game and for us that should be a good matchup. We pride ourselves on skating well and being aggressive and it should be a really good game tomorrow."Lee Stempniak