Wild, Flames clash in matchup of surging contenders

(SportsNetwork.com) - A key battle in the Western Conference playoff race is on tap tonight in Calgary, as the Flames invite the Minnesota Wild for Wednesday's showdown at the Saddledome.

The Flames currently are in playoff position with 67 points. They sit in a tie for second place in the Pacific Division with Vancouver and San Jose is one point behind in fourth place. Minnesota, meanwhile, is three points behind the Sharks for the West's final postseason berth.

Both clubs have fared well of late, with Calgary sporting an 11-4-0 mark over its past 15 trips to the ice and the Wild going 10-2-2 during a recent surge.

However, Minnesota hopes to rebound from its first regulation setback in nearly a month when it suits up for tonight's clash.

The Wild entered Monday's important test in Vancouver with an 8-0-2 record in their previous 10 games, but dropped a 3-2 regulation decision to the Canucks. It was the first time Minnesota ended a game without a point since losing 3-1 to Columbus on Jan. 19.

Alex Biega recorded the game-winner for Vancouver, scoring in his first NHL game. Biega beat a screened Devan Dubnyk with a point shot to give the Canucks a 3-1 lead with 8:06 left in the third.

Nino Niederreiter, who scored both of Minnesota's goals, cut the deficit to one just 1:41 after Biega, but the Wild couldn't pot the equalizer.

"We didn't play the game we should," Niederreiter admitted. "Sometimes we tried to get cute."

Dubnyk made 26 saves in a losing effort -- just his third setback in 13 decisions (10-2-1) since joining the Wild in a trade with Arizona last month. He is expected to start for the 15th straight time tonight and is 7-5-3 with a 2.27 goals against average in 16 career games against Calgary.

The Wild fell to 12-14-2 as the visiting team on Monday and will play the middle test of a three-game road trip tonight. The swing ends Friday in Edmonton.

Calgary, meanwhile, will take aim at a third consecutive victory tonight after opening a four-game homestand with consecutive wins against Vancouver and Boston. The Flames have won five of their last six at the Saddledome and boast a 17-11-2 mark at home this season.

After notching a 3-2 regulation win over the Canucks on Saturday, the Flames were able rally for an overtime victory Monday night against Boston.

The Bruins opened a 3-0 lead in Calgary, but the Flames would eventually win 4-3 on T.J. Brodie's goal with mere seconds to play in the extra session.

Before Brodie's dramatic game-winner, the Flames clawed their way back into the game with goals from Jiri Hudler and David Jones. Jones cut the lead to two at 6:52 of the second period, while Hudler scored twice in the third stanza and potted the game-tying score with 5:09 left in regulation.

As the clock was winding down in OT, Brodie skated the puck down the right wing and threw a backhand out front that was tipped by a Boston stick and popped into the air. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask attempted to grab it with his glove, but was unable to get it, and the puck bounced off his back and went in to give the Flames the win with 2.4 ticks left on the clock.

"Those guys never quit. We always have the feeling that we can pull (out) those comebacks," Flames head coach Bob Hartley said.

Karri Ramo was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots, while Jonas Hiller saved all 16 shots he faced in relief. Mark Giordano finished the game with three assists and has 36 on the season. Giordano is tied for the assists lead among NHL defensemen with Arizona's Keith Yandle.

Hiller will start tonight and is 11-6-1 with a 2.32 GAA in his career against the Wild.

Minnesota has claimed the first of three meetings with the Flames in 2014-15, posting a 1-0 win at Calgary on Jan. 29. Dubnyk made 30 saves for the shutout victory, while Hiller stopped 31-of-32 shots in the tough loss.

The Wild are riding a four-game point streak (3-0-1) in this series and have won seven of their last 10 encounters with Calgary. Minnesota is 3-1-1 in its last five trips to the Saddledome.