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WILD (11-9-2) at FLAMES (9-12-2)
TV: FS-N (HD), SNET-CGY (HD)
Last 10: Minnesota 5-5-0; Calgary 3-5-2
From the morning skate:
The Flames are finally back at home after a long eastern five-game road swing. They will play two at home before heading back on the road for a pair against Minnesota and Chicago.
The Minnesota Wild are in town for the second of six meetings this year. In previous meetings, the games have been low scoring and usually a one goal game.
"They are always tough, close games," said Jarome Iginla of the visiting Wild. "They play hard and we play hard. They are usually pretty physical too. We need to get back at it here. We've got ourselves in a spot where we've got to come back here. We have two games here at home and we start against Minnesota. We need these wins. We need to catch Minnesota and really start building some momentum."
Coach Brent Sutter mixed up the lines yet again for the pre-game skate, still searching for new sparks and something to start working. He decided to create a European line with Hagman, Backlund and Jokinen playing together.
"With Kots (Kotalik) getting close here, it might be something to look moving ahead," said Sutter. "I thought that Back (Backlund) has been an effective player and we're going to need to get his emotional level back after the other night. It's a situation where I think Hags and Olli are good when they are together and it seems for Olli to be something that fits. We'll see where it goes. Backs needs to play centre so Olli will stay on the wing."
Adam Pardy was also on the ice practicing with the team however he has not yet been cleared medically for contact. Sutter commented to media after Monday's practice that both Ales Kotalik and Adam Pardy will need to get in a few practices before they will be ready to get back in the lineup.
"He's getting close. There are timetables as you move forward with guys who have been injured," said Sutter on Kotalik's return. "Our goal was the first part of December so we're getting there now. I think he is getting to a point where he's getting close. Because of our schedule he hasn't been able to practice but he needs a couple practices in where he can be involved in game-like situations."
Projected Flames lineup vs. MInnesota
According to Minnesota Wild's twitter feed, defenceman Jared Spurgeon will make his NHL debut tonight in place of Justin Falk. Great way to celebrate his 21st birthday.
Projected Wild lines vs. Flames
Brunette, Koivu, O'Sullivan
Cullen, Brodziak, Havlat
Clutterbuck, Madden, Miettinen
Staubitz Nystrom Kassian
Jose Theodore will get the start in net against the Flames giving Niklas Backstrom a night off.
Season series: Second of six meetings this season between these Northwest Division rivals. Martin Havlat scored the decisive goal 4:20 into the third period as Minnesota won 2-1 on home ice back on Nov. 5. Rene Bourque opened the scoring for Calgary before Cal Clutterbuck evened things up later in the first period. Winning goalie Niklas Backstrom stopped 33 shots.
Big story: The Flames are back home following a difficult 1-2-2 road trip. While it featured the 10,000th goal in franchise history, scored shorthanded by Curtis Glencross in Philadelphia on Friday, they totaled just nine goals in five games (not counting the decisive goal credited for their shootout win over the Flyers). The Wild, meanwhile, have been struggling to keep the puck out of their own net, yielding 20 goals while losing three of their last four games.
Game Day Media Notes:
Wild: Backstrom has seen his goals-against average and save percentage take a major hit over his last three starts, as he’s given up 18 goals on 96 shots. Veteran backup Jose Theodore started in a 5-2 win over Nashville on Friday before Minnesota turned back to Backstrom the following night in Colorado. The Wild suffered a 7-4 defeat, with Backstrom getting pulled for Theodore in the third period.
"He wasn't sharp but the players in front didn't help him," coach Todd Richards said. "I really liked our first period. Then the game gets away from us and we make a couple of bad decisions with the puck."
Flames: Bourque notched the shootout winner as Calgary got a big two points in Philadelphia on Friday, but the Flames came up short in trying to complete a two-day sweep of Pennsylvania, dropping a 4-1 decision in Pittsburgh on Saturday. They became the latest NHL team to have no answers for Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby, who recorded the hat trick and extended his points streak to 12 games.
"Up until tonight, I thought we had a good trip," defenseman Mark Giordano said. "We were playing well. We got points in three of four games and we did deserve maybe a better fate than that. Tonight, we didn't play well. We know we didn't play well. We know we have to get on a roll at some point and start piling up some wins."
Who's hot: Martin Havlat has 4 goals and 9 assists over his last eight games for the Wild. ... In addition to his shootout goal against the Flyers, Bourque had the Flames’ only goal in losses to the Devils and Penguins.
Injury report: Minnesota defenseman Clayton Stoner is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Already on injured reserve are goalie Josh Harding (ACL/MCL) and forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), James Sheppard (knee), Chuck Kobasew (groin) and Guillaume Latendresse (sports hernia/hip).
Stat pack: Kyle Brodziak made the most of his nearly 14 minutes of ice time in the Wild’s loss on Saturday, scoring a pair of goals, recording a plus-2 rating and getting into a fight. ... Kiprusoff made 24 of his 39 saves Saturday in the first period.
Puck drop: Calgary managed to escape the first period against Pittsburgh in a scoreless tie thanks to the brilliance of its goaltender, but Kiprusoff was unable to win the game by himself.
"We've got to give Miikka a rest," forward Olli Jokinen told the Calgary Herald. "We didn't have any business still being in the game after two periods but we were still in because of him. We've got to find a way."