Ducks open 4-game roadswing at Flames

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Anaheim Ducks have taken care of business at home in the month of March to get back into the playoff picture in the NHL's Western Conference.

To remain there, the Ducks (37-24-12) will have to build upon that momentum during their four-game road swing through western Canada that begins on Wednesday in Calgary against the slumping Flames (35-29-10).

"It's about making sure that we prepare ourselves the right way (and) we have the right frame of mind," said Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle. "We know the importance of these games and we're going to go into a (hockey) hotbed. "Anytime you go into Calgary and then we're into Winnipeg and then back to Edmonton and out to Vancouver, that Canadian trip is always tough.

"We'll get back into the hockey culture of Canada. There's always pressure that goes with it. We just want to make sure we're not distracted. We've got a task at hand and we've got to make sure we put our best foot forward."

Thanks to a 4-2 road victory over the New Jersey Devils at home on Sunday -- their third straight win and sixth in seven games at the Honda Center this month -- the Ducks moved into the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference and within striking distance of third place in the Pacific Division.

"I thought in the last month overall we've played pretty well and (we're) building toward something," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "We've got to remember these games where things are on the line, it's fun to play and we've showed up."

The same can't be said for the Flames, who have dropped three straight decisions and four of their past five.

"I don't think we've scored the big goals at the right times," said Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan. "I don't think our specialty teams have helped us out at the critical moments."

Although they've outshot their opponents in nine straight games, the Flames have compiled a 3-5-1 record during that span.

"As far as effort -- all those other key indicators -- we're working, we're generating opportunities, chances (and) shots in every game we play," Gulutzan said. "We're just not getting those key goals or those key kills ... at the right times."

Following Calgary's 5-2 road loss to the Coyotes on Monday, captain Mark Giordano said he and his teammates realize the gravity of the situation that they're facing.

"Every game that we lose, there's less and less room for error ... if any now," said Giordano, while noting the Flames will have to win their remaining eight games just to get to 96 points. "We've got to go into every game basically knowing that we have to get the two points."

When goalie Mike Smith started the season in Calgary after spending the past six years with the Coyotes, he believed that the Flames had what it took to qualify to play in the postseason.

"That was my feeling coming into this season," said Smith, who has just one win in his past four outings since returning to Calgary's lineup after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury. "On paper, you look at our team and we should be a lot further ahead than we are. I think that's the frustrating part about this season and how it's gone is we've underachieved by a lot."
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