Marathon ends with tough sprint

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

DALLAS -- They may be running on fumes but the Calgary Flames know it will take every ounce of energy they have left to leave Dallas with a victory.

It's bad enough the final act of a marathon seven-game road swing will be the Flames' third game in four days and seventh in 11.

Worse is it comes against one of the league's most well-rounded teams -- one of the hottest since the Olympic break with just three losses in their last 12.

"They're playing great," said Flames winger Tony Amonte, whose Flames take on the Stars this afternoon (1 p.m., Sportsnet.)

"They're playing good hockey -- especially the second half of the season, they seemed to really get it going."

Calgary needs a win to get back to .500 on the road for their current tip and for the season. The Flames also need the victory to put some space between themselves and the rest of the pack nipping at their heels in the Northwest Division.

This isn't an easy task even if the Flames were fresh.

"Playing in their building is going to be a big challenge for us," admitted Amonte. "They took it to us pretty good there last time down there so this is a big game for us."

Amonte says his team isn't lacking motivation. It certainly aren't looking past the matinee despite the pleasure of returning home after nearly two weeks away from homes, wives, kids and friends.

"We can't think about going home. We need this game bad," said Amonte. "(Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter) stated that again today. We've got to put everything we have into it.

"Coming off a loss, a game that we need bad in the standings, expect it to be a playoff-style game (today) again. We're going to put everything we have into it."

All three games the two teams have played this season have been decided by a single goal. The Flames lost their home opener to the Stars when defenceman Philippe Boucher scored with less than a minute to play in overtime to give Dallas a 3-2 victory.

The rematch at American Airlines Center also went to the Stars, this time in a 2-1 decision. Calgary won the most recent battle 1-0 at the Saddledome, handing the Stars their first blanking of the year on Miikka Kiprusoff's stellar 39-save performance.

"When you play teams that are good defensively and teams that have been there with experience, the object is to keep the goals against down," said forward Darren McCarty.


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