Flames, Wild aim to continue ascent at other’s expense

Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan has heard the notion that the NHL teams in playoff position on (American) Thanksgiving are generally the ones that make the playoffs five months later.

With two wins in a row under his belt to move his team back into a playoff position, Gulutzan likes the direction the Flames are headed even with more than half of the season to go.

Still, after winning in overtime in Montreal and getting a 4-2 home victory versus the Vancouver Canucks in their last outing, Gulutzan knows there’s little breathing room for the Flames (16-12-2) with the standings changing every day.

Sunday night’s 4-3 victory came after the Wild built a 3-0 lead on San Jose, only to see it slip away before Nino Niederreiter’s overtime winner sealed it. Backup goalie Alex Stalock got the start in the place where his NHL career began, and had 31 saves.

While Minnesota has been running into penalty trouble recently, and it is still without left winger Zach Parise and defenseman Jared Spurgeon due to injury. Top blue-liner Ryan Suter has been picking up extra time on the ice to fill any gaps.

“Thirty minutes, 30 minutes, 30 minutes,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said, rattling off Suter’s normal time on ice during each game of the California trip. “Smart playing, even lately he’s been a little but more aggressive offensively and still getting back (on defense).”

Suter was indeed the catalyst on Oct. 18 in Calgary when these teams had their initial meeting of the season. Minnesota notched a 4-2 win with Suter netting a goal and two assists.

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