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Clinching the final playoff spot in the Western Conference hasn't been easy for the Calgary Flames.
Calgary will again attempt to secure a postseason berth with a victory over the lowly Edmonton Oilers on Saturday in its regular season home finale.
The Flames (43-27-10) again failed to lock up the eighth spot, which they've held for some time, with a 4-3 loss at San Jose on Thursday. That defeat, coupled with Colorado's 3-1 win over Vancouver the same night, left the Flames three points ahead of the hard-charging Avalanche with two games remaining.
A win Saturday or at Colorado on Sunday would clinch the final playoff berth for Calgary, and any Colorado loss in regulation would eliminate it from postseason contention. The Avalanche, 14-1-2 since Feb. 25, host Nashville on Saturday.
The Flames fell 4-3 at home to Colorado on Tuesday, missing a chance to eliminate the Avs, and have lost two in a row after winning six straight. The Flames would prefer not to have their season come down to Sunday's finale at Denver.
"The way we looked at it was like a series," Calgary leading scorer Jarome Iginla said. "We lost the first two games and we have the a chance to go home and clinch it. It's all about winning one game. The whole season comes down to this."
Calgary appears to have a good chance to end the playoff race Saturday. The Flames are 5-2-0 this season against Edmonton (31-43-7), which has been shut out in its last two games and will miss the postseason after reaching the Stanley Cup finals in 2005-06. The Flames, with an NHL-best 30 home victories, have won all three meetings with the Oilers at the Pengrowth Saddledome and the last four overall.
Iginla had two third-period goals and added an assist as the Flames nearly rallied from a 4-1 deficit Thursday. He has 39 goals and a career-high 55 assists, and needs three points to top his career best of 96 set in 2001-02.
Iginla has five goals and four assists in his last four contests, and has recorded three goals and two assists in five games against Edmonton this season. He had a goal in a 4-2 win March 3 in the most recent meeting.
Miikka Kiprusoff has started all seven games against the Oilers, posting a 1.58 goals-against average with one shutout, but will be looking to bounce back after losing his second straight start since recording his 40th victory of the season.
"This was a tough loss because it was a huge game," Kiprusoff, who has allowed eight goals in the two defeats after giving up nine during a six-game winning streak, said after Thursday's defeat. "We didn't bring our best. Now all we can do is win the next one."
Edmonton fell 3-0 to Minnesota for the second straight game Thursday, extending its losing streak to six games. The Oilers have been outscored 21-6 and shut out three times during the skid.
"We played pretty hard both games," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said of the losses to the Wild. "When you go through a stretch like this you don't have the resiliency to overcome a lot. Or anything."
The Oilers have gone eight periods without a goal since Raffi Torres scored in the first period of a 2-1 loss to Chicago on Sunday.
Struggling offensively even before sending leading scorer Ryan Smith to the New York Islanders at the trade deadline, Edmonton is 1-17-1 and has scored only 21 goals in the last 19 games. The Oilers haven't won in regulation since a 4-0 victory at Columbus on Feb. 22.
Fernando Pisani scored twice in Edmonton's March 3 loss to Calgary, but has two assists and no goals since then.