Coyotes continue playoff chase against Flames

The Phoenix Coyotes will aim to boost their playoff chances with a fifth win in six games when they visit the lowly Calgary Flames for Friday's clash at the Saddledome.

Phoenix has qualified for the postseason in each of the past three years, but enters Friday two points behind Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with eight games remaining for both teams. The Red Wings recorded a shootout loss against San Jose last night and also play Friday evening in Nashville.

Although the Coyotes seriously damaged their playoff odds with an 0-5-2 stretch from March 14-27, the club has since compiled a 5-1-1 mark to get the postseason push back on track.

The lone regulation loss of Phoenix's current hot streak came in Monday's road 2-0 setback against Vancouver, but Dave Tippett's team rebounded two nights later with a 3-1 decision at Edmonton.

David Moss and Boyd Gordon both had one goal and one assist to lead the Coyotes to Wednesday's victory over the Oilers. Antoine Vermette also scored and Mike Smith stopped 29 shots for the Coyotes.

"This was a do-or-die game for either team," said Tippett. "We got the points and we're still in the race."

Friday's tilt is the final stop on a three-game road trip for the Coyotes, who are just 5-9-5 as the guest this season. Phoenix's next tilt is Monday's home contest against San Jose, but the club will then head back out on another three-game swing.

Calgary, meanwhile, will take on the role of spoiler when it hosts the Coyotes on Friday. The Flames are in 14th place in the West and 12 points out of a playoff spot, meaning the club is all but certain to spend a fourth straight spring without a postseason.

However, the Flames have won three of the last four meetings against Phoenix and the Coyotes have lost two straight in Calgary.

The Flames lost for the sixth time in seven games on Wednesday, dropping a 4-1 home decision to the Vancouver Canucks. Maxim Lapierre potted the game-winner as part of a three-goal third period that lifted the Canucks to a win at the Saddledome.

Curtis Glencross scored the lone Calgary goal, while Miikka Kiprusoff allowed all four goals on 29 shots for the Flames.

"We generated lots of great chances," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "It's unfortunate, tough break with around seven minutes to go. That's the kind of team they have, they capitalize on it."

It marked the third straight regulation loss on home ice for the Flames, who are 10-8-2 as the host this season compared to a dreadful 4-13-2 mark on the road.