SPORTS

Flames vs. Wild: 5 things to know

03/27/2015 12:51 EDT | Updated 05/27/2015 05:59 EDT
It's all quiet on the Eastern front of the NHL playoff battle on Friday (also-ran Columbus is the only Eastern Conference team in action) but a key Western skirmish looms.

Here are five things to know for tonight's Flames vs. Wild game in Minnesota at 8 p.m. ET.

Calgary on outside looking in

The lower end of the West's playoff picture is in a constant state of flux, and Thursday night's results weren't kind to the idle Flames. Los Angeles' win on Long Island leapfrogged the Kings (37-23-14, 88 points) into third place in the Pacific at the expense of Calgary (40-27-7, 87 points), which dropped one point out of the final playoff spot reserved for the division. The Flames also find themselves three points out of the bottom wild-card spot after Winnipeg (39-24-12, 90 points), which occupies that position, beat Montreal at home.

Flames need win to reclaim playoff spot

With eight games left on its schedule, Calgary has one in hand on Winnipeg and has played the same number as L.A. The Flames need to win tonight to overtake the idle Kings because an overtime or shootout loss would put them on equal footing in points but also give the Kings the momentary tiebreaker edge since they'll have played one fewer game.

Both teams on streaks

Minnesota (42-25-7, 91 points) holds the top wild-card spot in the West and seems intent on keeping it. The Wild have won three in a row, beating tough St. Louis at home, weak Toronto on the road and, most recently, the fading Islanders in a road shootout.

Calgary has earned at least a point in each of its last four games, all played at home. Along with regulation wins over Philly and Colorado, there was an overtime loss to Columbus and, most recently, a shootout defeat to Dallas.

Wild going for sweep

This is the final time Minnesota and Calgary will meet this season. The Wild won each of the previous matchups, both on the road, by slim margins — 3-2 in overtime on Feb. 18, and 1-0 on Jan. 29.

Dubnyk extends starts streak

Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk is expected to make his 33rd consecutive start — the most since San Jose's Antti Niemi started 34 in a row in 2011. Dubnyk has been a godsend for the Wild, who were foundering at 18-19-5 in mid-January when they acquired him from Arizona. He's started every game since, going 24-6-1 with five shutouts.

Karri Ramo (15-8-3, two shutouts) is expected to get the call for Calgary. 

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