Preview: Flames vs. Avs
The Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames aren't just fading in the playoff race. They're also running out of chances to help themselves.
The Avalanche and Flames will try to earn a much-needed win Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Colorado (40-33-6) is 0-3-1 over its last four games and is the only playoff contender with just three contests remaining. A 1-0 defeat to Vancouver on Wednesday was also the team's third straight road loss, but the Avalanche remain hopeful.
"Anything can happen," defenseman Shane O'Brien said. "Teams that have games in hand, they could still lose. We're going to fight to the bitter end until we're mathematically done. But this (loss) definitely stings a bit."
Calgary, 11th in the West and one point behind the Avalanche, is 1-3-3 in its last seven and has only four games left. The Flames (35-28-15) were also shut out Wednesday, 3-0 against Los Angeles, to snap a seven-game point streak at home (5-0-2).
"We've failed to come up with wins at key times and all we can do is look ahead to the Colorado game," forward Lee Stempniak said. "You have to cling to any glimmer of hope right now. We can control what we can control and try to pick up as many points as we can. Hopefully, we can get some help from some other teams."
Judging by their recent history against Colorado, the Flames might have a chance to help themselves Friday. Calgary has won four in a row at home over its Northwest Division rival and 11 of 13 overall.
The Avalanche, though, managed to snap a nine-game skid in the series with a 2-1 overtime victory March 20.
David Jones scored the winning goal in that game and assisted on Paul Stastny's in the first period. Semyon Varlamov held the Flames scoreless over the final 63:13 of the contest, but his team hasn't won another game since.
Colorado hasn't aided its cause by scoring two goals or fewer in five straight while Calgary has tallied two or fewer in six of its last seven. That should put the pressure on each team's goaltender in Friday's matchup.
Flames starter Miikka Kiprusoff has a 2.06 goals-against average over his last eight starts but his lack of support has played a part in his 3-2-3 record over that stretch. Varlamov had given up a combined 10 goals in the three games before Wednesday's loss.
Kiprusoff is 10-0-1 with a 1.74 GAA in his last 11 games against Colorado, and Varlamov is 1-3-0 with a 2.36 GAA in four all-time appearances versus Calgary.
Stempniak has a team-best five points against the Avalanche this season and 13 over his last 11 matchups (seven goals, six assists). Flames captain Jarome Iginla has six goals and four assists in his past nine games versus Colorado but has registered two assists during the last seven overall contests.
Former Avalanche winger Alex Tanguay also has two points over that same stretch, but has totaled three goals and seven assists during the past 11 games against the team that drafted him.
Curtis Glencross had scored a goal in three straight games against Colorado before last week's loss. He has seven goals and three assists in his last nine matchups.