After surging ahead of the struggling Stars in the standings on an unreal tear over the course of the past two-plus months, the Flames find themselves in a tie with tonight's opponent, battling to stake their claim amongst the playoff-bound teams of the West.
The visitors could sweep the Stars on home turf tonight with a victory, although that task has been made slightly more difficult by the return of Brad Richards, who was sidelined with a concussion for the last contest between the two. The Stars have had an up-and-down roller coaster of a season, and the return of their leading scorer certainly provides a boost at a crucial time for a team fighting to stay above the mass of competing squads in the standings. For the Flames, captain Jarome Iginla will look to keep up his recent hot streak against the team that drafted him after joining some very elite company with his tenth consecutive 30-goal season in the team's last victory over the Nashville Predators.
Both teams come into this game having won two straight against Western Conference opponents, and, knowing the importance of the two points at steak this evening, both will be reluctant to give up any ground. It may be becoming cliche now, but Flames players have said it best themselves--they've been playing playoff-style hockey since Christmas, and the only way for them to guarantee themselves a spot is to keep on winning.
Lines and Pairings:
It'll be a battle for Finnish goaltender supremacy tonight as Miikka Kiprusoff will start his 21st straight game in net for the Flames while Kari Lehtonen will counter for Dallas; both goalies have been huge for their respective teams this season, and Kipper holds the edge in the season series thus far.
Enjoy the game everyone and hope that Brad Richards looks a little rusty in his return from injury in the comments. Go Flames.