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Minnesota Wild Conclude Season Series With Calgary Flames Tonight

(Sports Network) - A pair of Northwest Division foes that are fighting to get into the playoff picture will meet tonight in Calgary, as the Flames host the Minnesota Wild at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Wild and Flames are third and fourth, respectively, in the Northwest Division and are separated by five points in the standings. With 51 points on the year, Minnesota is tied for ninth in the West and is just three points behind the conference's final postseason berth.

Calgary, meanwhile, is 14th in the West, but is still just eight points in back of a potential playoff spot.

Tonight's divisional battle is also the regular-season finale between these clubs. Calgary has taken three of the five encounters this year, but the Wild still boast eight victories in the last 12 meetings overall.

Minnesota has also won four of its last five in Calgary and has split a pair of matchups at the Saddledome this year.

The Flames had a two-game win streak halted Monday in Montreal, but the overtime loss to the Canadiens also marked Calgary's fifth straight game with a point. The 2-0-3 stretch is the longest point streak for the Flames this season.

Calgary dropped a 5-4 decision to the Habs when P.K. Subban scored 66 seconds into overtime at the Bell Centre. In the extra session, Scott Gomez dished to Subban in the right circle and the rookie defenseman let go a wrister over the shoulder of Calgary goalie Henrik Karlsson.

Rene Bourque, Jarome Iginla, Ales Kotalik and Alex Tanguay found the back of the net for the Flames. Miikka Kiprusoff was replaced by Karlsson after surrendering four goals on 17 shots. Karlsson made 11 saves.

Kiprusoff has excellent career numbers against Minnesota and is expected to start tonight. The Finnish veteran is 25-13-4 with a tie and a 1.95 GAA in 43 career games against the Wild.

The Flames have lost their last two home games and are 11-8-1 as the host this season.

Minnesota, meanwhile, has won its last two games on the heels of a three-game slide and is 6-3-0 so far in January.

The Wild have outscored the opposition by a combined 8-1 margin over their last two games. Minnesota notched a 4-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Sunday and the Wild defeated the Oilers, 4-1, in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Matt Cullen and Brent Burns scored 1:46 apart early in the first period to set the tone as the Wild rolled past the Oilers at Rexall Place.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Andrew Brunette both tallied in the third period for Minnesota. Eric Nystrom collected two assists and Anton Khudobin made 31 saves.

"It really wasn't our best game, but at least we got the two points," said Minnesota forward Kyle Brodziak. "That's the most important thing, but we know that we must play better if we're going to stay competitive."

Khudobin has started the last three games in net for the Wild and has yielded a total of four goals in those tilts. However, Niklas Backstrom is expected to get the start over the youngster tonight. Backstrom has served as the backup in the last two games, but hasn't played since injuring his left hip on Dec. 31.

With Backstrom expected to be back in action tonight and fellow goaltender Jose Theodore nearing a return from a hip injury of his own, Khudobin will likely be sent down to the AHL when Minnesota gets its top-two netminders back.

The Wild kicked off a four-game road trip on Tuesday and Todd Richards' club is 12-7-3 as the guest this season.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.