Series (Game 6 of 6)

Colorado leads 4-2

Game 1: Wednesday, October 28th
Game 2: Tuesday, November 17th
Game 3: Sunday, December 13th
Game 4: Monday, January 11th
Game 5: Wednesday, March 17th
Game 6: Friday, April 2nd

Flames 2

(40-29-9, 89 pts)

Avalanche 1

(41-29-7, 89 pts)

9:30 PM ET, April 2, 2010

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

1 2 3 T
CGY 0 1 12
COL 0 0 11

Top Skaters

Calgary: C. Sarich - 1 G, 2 SOG, +1

Colorado: C. Stewart - 1 A, 8 SOG, +1

Flames-Avalanche Preview


Less than a week ago, the Calgary Flames appeared all but finished in the Western Conference playoff race, with a six-point deficit behind eighth-place Colorado and time running low.

Suddenly, the stumbling Avalanche are the ones running out of chances to stop their untimely slide.

The Flames would pull even with Colorado if they can earn a regulation victory Friday night in Denver, where the Avalanche will be desperate to avoid a fourth straight loss.

"It's going to be the biggest game of the year," Flames forward Rene Bourque said. "They've been struggling so they're definitely going to be ready for us, but we've played well there this year. This is the time of the year everyone wants to play hockey and this is when the best players have to be your best players."

Colorado's feel-good rise from last season's last-place finish in the West may not have a happy ending thanks to a 1-5-1 stretch to close March -- a slump that began with a 3-2 home loss to Calgary on March 17.

The Flames (39-29-9) didn't look like much of a threat after Saturday's lackluster 5-0 loss at Boston, but they've regrouped with impressive wins over Washington and Phoenix.

The Avs (41-28-7) haven't earned a point from their last three games, getting outscored 15-7.

"Everyone's got to take a deep breath and remember what we did to get here," Colorado defenseman Adam Foote said. "We just have to regroup. The last few games we've been forcing plays too early and getting off our game. Seems like the plays we force end up in our net."

It hasn't helped that Colorado's Craig Anderson is 1-5-1 with a 4.25 goals-against average in his last seven starts. A heavy workload could be the culprit, as Anderson has already broken the franchise record for goalie starts with 67 -- 40 above his previous career high.

He stayed optimistic after losing 5-2 to Anaheim on Wednesday.

"We're still leading the race, that's the bottom line," Anderson said. "Destiny is in our own hands. We control our own fate. We win Friday, we're looking pretty good."

With a regulation loss, the Avs would allow Calgary to match them with 89 points, but Colorado would still have the lead with an extra win and a game in hand.

That may not stop the Flames, who are coming off wins over two of the four NHL teams that have already reached 100 points. After scoring four goals in the first period of a 5-3 win at Washington on Sunday, they got 29 saves from Miikka Kiprusoff in Wednesday's 2-1 victory over the Coyotes.

"Nothing is over until it's over," forward Ales Kotalik said. "Right now we're in a pretty good position ... and it feels good to go into Colorado and hopefully we can come up with a big effort."

Kotalik scored for the second consecutive game Wednesday after getting one goal in his first 19 with the Flames, who acquired him from the New York Rangers during a major roster shakeup Feb. 2.

Bourque also scored Wednesday, and he had two goals at Colorado last month to help snap Calgary's six-game losing streak in the series. The last five meetings have finished with a 3-2 score.

Vesa Toskala made 32 saves at Denver in place of Kiprusoff, who is 0-4-1 with a 3.00 GAA in his last five starts against the Avs.