Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 4/14/13
The Minnesota Wild are still in contention for the Northwest Division title. They're also in danger of falling out of playoff contention. Minnesota will try to avoid a season-high fourth consecutive loss on Monday night when the Calgary Flames look to play spoiler again. Just five points behind Vancouver with seven games remaining, the Wild (22-16-3) have a chance to end the Canucks' four-year run atop the division. Minnesota, though, should be more concerned about generating some offense in what could turn into the club's fifth straight non-playoff season. The Wild scored twice on a just-completed 0-2-1 homestand and have netted eight goals during their 1-5-1 swoon. "The bottom line is that's a big point for us," coach Mike Yeo said after Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to Columbus. "When you're down (Jason Pominville tied it in the third) and their goalie (Sergei Bobrovsky) is playing like that, to tie it up late, that's a big point." Minnesota, though, needs to start picking up two at a time with a number of Western Conference teams in close pursuit. Another loss would make it four straight for the Wild for the first time since an 0-4-1 skid from Feb. 28-March 6, 2012. Facing a Flames team that's 14th in the West is no guarantee that Minnesota will get back into the win column. After costing Phoenix a point in Friday's 3-2 overtime win, Calgary (16-21-4) hurt Edmonton's playoff chances on Saturday with a 4-1 victory. The Flames, who were without two of their top three goal scorers -- Curtis Glencross (illness) and Alex Tanguay (season-ending MCL sprain) -- have won three of four since dropping a season-high five straight. Calgary last won three in a row during a five-game skid from March 6-15, 2012. "We have a lot of guys injured so we have a lot of young guys in the lineup right now that are just enjoying being in the NHL," forward Tim Jackman said after setting up two goals. "We're not in the playoff race, so to have them come in and show how much they want it brings the best out of everybody." Joey MacDonald is enjoying his best stretch of the season, stopping 96 of 100 shots while winning his last three starts, so there's a good chance he'll get a third consecutive start in Calgary's net in place of Miikka Kiprusoff, who has lost his last six. MacDonald has started the last two games versus Minnesota -- a 3-1 home win on Feb. 23 and a 2-1 overtime loss in St. Paul on Feb. 26 -- after Leland Irving was in net for an injured Kiprusoff in a 2-1 shootout home loss on Feb. 11. Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom was solid in all three games, but the Flames have extended their point streak in this series to eight (5-0-3). Defenseman Ryan Suter, the team leader with three points (all assists) against Calgary this season, missed Sunday's morning skate, but he logged more than 30 minutes of ice time and set up Pominville's goal the previous night -- two days after playing less than 16 due to an unspecified injury. The Wild, already without Dany Heatley (left shoulder) for the rest of the season, could have center Matt Cullen (lower-body injury) back some time during their next three games before returning home to face Calgary on April 21. Cullen, who last played on April 1, participated in Sunday's skate.
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