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Arizona Coyotes face a flickering Calgary Flames team

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With three games remaining, the Calgary Flames will face the Arizona Coyotes with everything on the line.

Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

The stakes seem to get higher with every team the Arizona Coyotes play.

After effectively dooming San Jose's playoff hopes with a 5-3 victory last Saturday, the Arizona Coyotes will face a Calgary Flames team barely hanging on to the last guaranteed playoff spot in the Pacific Division.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Calgary Flames
Points 56 (7th Pacific) 93 (3rd Pacific)
Goals For 2.05 (29th) 2.91 (6th)
Goals Against 3.25 (28th) 2.60 (T-15th)
Power Play 20.6% (7th) 19.0% (T-9th)
Penalty Kill 77.2 (27th) 80.2 (22nd)
5v5 SAT 48.6% (22nd) 44.4% (28th)
SPSv% 97.2 (29th) 101.7 (3rd)

View from Arizona

Much of the tanking talk had died down entering this week, as the Coyotes are now two points ahead of Buffalo with two games remaining. For the Sabres to get three out of a possible four points this late in the season is a lot to ask for. Arizona is just three points behind Edmonton however for 28th overall, so perhaps Coyotes fans should not count on 29th being a lock anymore.

The team's relatively anemic offensive production in March and April was overshadowed by the five goal explosion that torpedoed San Jose's slim playoff hopes on Saturday night. Shane Doan, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Sam Gagner are the team's leading point producers, and while that trio may not look that fearsome on paper Saturday demonstrates that they can pile on the points against an unsuspecting or tired team.

View from Calgary

This year's Toronto Maple Leafs Award for Bucking the Trend of Advanced Statistics goes to the Calgary Flames. Despite an abysmal 5v5 SAT percentage, Calgary has stubbornly held on to a playoff spot in the Pacific Division for almost the entirety of the season, including over 20 games without the services of Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman Mark Giordano.

Though the Flames are a prime candidate for regression going into next season, they are still in control of their postseason destiny this season. They have two regulation/overtime wins over Los Angeles, but have to play the Kings after the Coyotes. This game has all the signs of a quintessential "trap game" that Calgary can ill afford to lose.

Keys to the Game

  • Exploit the Defense - Calgary's offense has been humming all year, but their defense is mediocre at best. The Coyotes need to take advantage of the loss of Giordano.
  • Pepper the Goalie - Jonas Hiller is likely to start in net given Karri Ramo's injury. No matter who the goaltender is, the Coyotes need to take as many shots as they can against a team that loves to give them up.
  • Don't Just Hold a Lead - Calgary is one the best teams in the league at coming from behind. The Coyotes can't afford to let up if they go up by a goal or two.

Who's Hot

Oliver Ekman-Larsson now holds the franchise record for goals by a defenseman with 23 thanks to his two goal night Saturday versus the Sharks.

Jiri Hudler leads the Flames in points with 72. He had two goals to complement four assists over his last five games.

Injury Report

Arizona will not have Martin Hanzal or Mikkel Boedker after both underwent season ending surgeries. Lauri Korpikoski's return is not expected on this road trip; he suffered a facial laceration against Detroit two weeks ago and has not played since.

In addition to Giordano, Ladislav Smid is out for the season with a neck injury. Karri Ramo and Paul Byron are the only other players considered questionable for tonight.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game begins at 6 PM Arizona time. While there's no TV broadcast in the Phoenix area, you can listen to the game on 92.3 KTAR FM.