Red Wings-Flames Preview

The Detroit Red Wings understand every game is critical while

trying to make the playoffs. Especially one against a team like the

Calgary Flames, who are looking to do the same.

Trying for a third consecutive victory, the visiting Red Wings

have a chance to avenge their latest loss as they face the Flames

for the second time in seven days Monday night.

Having not missed the playoffs since the 1989-90 season, Detroit

(33-23-12) is doing all it can to prevent the end of that streak.

The Red Wings have won four of five and currently hold the eighth

and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, one point ahead

of ninth-place Calgary.

It was the Flames (34-25-9), however, who rallied to score three

unanswered goals in the third period to hand Detroit its most

recent loss, 4-2 at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday. The two-time

defending conference champions don’t have to wait long for a shot

at avenging that defeat as they open a three-game western Canadian

trip Monday in Calgary.

“We owe Calgary after they embarrassed us in our own barn in the

third period,” said Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, who made 28 saves in

that last meeting but fell to 0-2-0 with a 3.06 goals-against

average versus the Flames. “We’ll be ready.”

The Red Wings should be after a 3-2 overtime home win over

Buffalo on Saturday.

Pavel Datsyuk and Patrick Eaves scored in regulation, then Brian

Rafalski added the winner 31 seconds into overtime for the Red

Wings, who’ve won five of seven since the Olympic break.

“Every point is crucial,” said Rafalski, who has two goals and

three assists in his last four games. “I’m glad we got two.”

Rafalski had two assists while Datsyuk added a goal Tuesday

against the Flames, who’ve won two of the three meetings between

the teams this season. Datsyuk has four goals in his last five

games overall.

Calgary missed a chance to move ahead of Detroit in the

standings Sunday, as its four-game winning streak was snapped with

a 3-1 loss at Vancouver.

“Obviously, (Monday) night’s game is huge for us but this time

of year it shouldn’t take much to get ready to play, especially

being in the situation we’re in,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said.

“Getting ready to play should be the easy part.”

Robyn Regehr scored as Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo stopped all

but one of the Flames’ 33 shots. The Flames had scored 16 goals in

their previous four games.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 17 saves but was replaced by Vesa Toskala

after allowing three goals in the first period. Though he had his

three-game winning streak snapped Sunday, Kiprusoff is 2-1 with a

1.34 GAA against Detroit this season and could be back in net for

this contest.

However, Toskala, who’s made one start since being acquired in a

trade with Anaheim on March 3, is 7-1-0 with a 1.60 GAA in his

career versus the Red Wings.

Jarome Iginla had a goal and an assist at Detroit last week, but

he has been held without a point in two games since then.

These teams have split their last six meetings played in