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BIG NHL Game Prediction: Calgary Flames vs Minnesota Wild (3/11/12)

With help from a bevy of players, the Calgary Flames are staying competitive in the Western Conference playoff race despite a rash of injuries. The short handed Minnesota Wild have had difficulty doing the same.

One of those playing an important role for Calgary is captain Jarome Iginla, and he’ll try to continue his success against the Wild on Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center. The Flames (31-25-12) defeated Winnipeg 5-3 on Friday to complete a three game homestand with five of a possible six points.

Calgary won the finale despite having lost yet another player Tuesday during a 5-4 win over Montreal. Tim Jackman left after his first shift because of an upper-body injury and joined a list of sidelined Calgary players that includes Michael Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak, Blake Comeau and Mikael Backlund.

Alex Tanguay has helped make up for those absences with 13 points over his last eight games, including a season-high four Friday. Curtis Glencross scored a goal for the sixth straight contest, two shy of a club record, while Iginla and Olli Jokinen provided three points apiece.

Mark Giordano and Matt Stajan also recorded multipoint efforts in the win, and Giordano’s game opening goal was one of three scored on the power play. Calgary is 7 for 24 with the man advantage in its last eight games after going six straight without a power-play goal.

Iginla had one of those power play goals Friday, and has five overall with four assists over five games this month. He’s scored a goal in each of his team’s three consecutive wins over the Wild (29-29-10), including a 5-2 victory Nov. 27 in this season’s only meeting at St. Paul.

The 15-year veteran has more goals (34) and more points (62) against Minnesota than any other player in NHL history.

The Wild have failed to score in their last 124:13 on home ice and are 2-6-1 in nine home games since the All-Star break. They’re 4-10-3 in their last 17 overall, though they managed to snap a five game skid Thursday with a 3-2 shootout victory in Phoenix.

Minnesota blew a two-goal lead in the third period, but Dany Heatley helped his team come away with two points by scoring the Wild’s third and final goal of the shootout.

Hackett had to replace Josh Harding (lower-body injury) during Thursday’s win. The Wild already were missing top goaltender Niklas Backstrom (groin), captain Mikko Koivu (upper body) and six other players.

Harding’s injury could lead to Hackett’s fourth career start and first against Calgary. Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff is 3-1-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average in the four games versus Minnesota this season.

Heatley has four points in the season series and tops the Wild with 20 goals but has only one in his last 12 games. Glencross has scored in each of the past two matchups with Minnesota, which trails Calgary by six points.

STARTING GOALIES:

Calgary Flames – Miikka Kiprusoff

Minnesota Wild – Matthew Hackett

BIG NHL GAME PREDICTION:

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