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HOCKEY

Flames, Wild clash in St. Paul

The Calgary Flames will try to win three in a row for the first time in two months when they visit the Minnesota Wild in tonight's Northwest Division battle at Xcel Energy Center.

The Flames, who are two points out of a playoff spot in the West, posted consecutive victories to close a three-game homestand with a 2-0-1 record. Calgary scored five goals in each win, and with another triumph this evening, the Flames can post three straight victories for the first time Jan. 7-12.

Calgary earned its most recent win Friday night against Winnipeg, as Alex Tanguay posted a goal and three assists to help lift the Flames to the 5-3 decision over the Jets. Tanguay recorded a season-high in points and the veteran winger has two goals and seven assists during a five-game point streak.

Jarome Iginla had a goal and two assists for the Flames, who are tied with Los Angeles for the 10th seed in the conference and are two points behind Colorado for the West's eighth spot.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 42 saves to improve his season record to 30-19-8. Kiprusoff has reached 30 wins in each of the last seven seasons for Calgary.

Calgary jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 13 minutes of the game, only to let Winnipeg cut the deficit to 3-2 by the end of the first period. The Flames scored the game's next two goals to build a 5-2 advantage.

"After the first period tonight, we went in and we talked about how we wanted to play and how we wanted to start our second period, and I thought we did a really good job with it," Flames head coach Brent Sutter said.

Due to a rash of injuries, the Flames were forced to recall top forward prospect Sven Baertschi from his junior team on an emergency basis and the 13th overall pick of the 2011 draft made his NHL debut on Friday. Baertschi notched a shot on goal in just over nine minutes of ice time.

Calgary is currently without injured forwards Tim Jackman (upper body), Lee Stempniak (high ankle sprain), Blair Jones (cracked ankle), Mikael Backlund (shoulder), Michael Cammalleri (upper body), Blake Comeau (upper body) and Lance Bouma (upper body).

The Flames, who are 13-15-7 as the guest this year, will be on the road for just one game before returning to Calgary for a two-game residency against San Jose and Phoenix.

The Wild, who are eight points out of a playoff spot in the West, ended a five-game losing streak with Thursday's 3-2 shootout win in Phoenix. Dany Heatley scored the game-winner in the fifth round of the decisive phase for Minnesota.

After Wild netminder Matt Hackett stoned Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the top half of the fifth round, Heatley had a chance to win it. The former 50-goal scorer went in on goal with speed, shifted to his backhand in close and slid the puck through the legs of Jason LaBarbera for the winner.

Kyle Brodziak and Steven Kampfer scored in regulation and Josh Harding stopped all 24 shots he saw before leaving in the second period with an injury. Hackett gave up two goals on 17 shots, but came up huge for his team in the shootout.

"It was an unbelievable character win," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said. "I'm really proud of the effort the guys put in."

With Harding joining No. 1 netminder Niklas Backstrom on the shelf, Hackett is expected to get the start tonight for the Wild.

Tonight's tilt marks the start of a five-game homestand for Minnesota, which is 15-12-4 as the host this season.

The Flames have won three straight against the Wild since dropping a 3-0 decision in Calgary on Nov. 8. The Wild have still won seven of 12 overall in this series, but Calgary has claimed two wins in its last three trips to St. Paul.