First in Northwest within reach

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

First place in the Northwest Division is there for the taking.

It's up to the Calgary Flames to grab it.

As they start their six-game road trip tonight in Detroit, the Flames sit one point back of the Colorado Avalanche with two games in hand.

As tough as their road trip will be, knowing the opportunity to overtake the Avalanche as early as tonight has to be an emotional boost.

"We had a chance for an emotional boost when we had them here and lost it," said left-winger Nigel Dawes, recalling their recent 3-2 loss to the Avs last week.

"When we go out, we have to think about our game.

"Yeah, you can look at the standings and stuff, but you can't worry about other teams are doing. We keep winning, it's likely you'll end up catching them. That's what happened over the last month.

"We had an opportunity to take them when they were here and fell a bit short, but I think our team's happy where we are and about our chances of catching them."

Calgary also plays tomorrow night in Columbus but won't use up any of those games in hand just yet.

The Avalanche, who have lost three of four and won only twice in their last eight outings, play a home-and-home series with Minnesota tonight and tomorrow.

Moving past a rival for top spot in the division doesn't mean everything at this time of the season, but it is something the Flames want to do as soon as possible.

The next goal is to pull away from the pack for good, unlike what transpired last season.

"It's always something you work for," Dawes said.

"And once you're above them, you don't want to look back.

"You don't want to rest once you do pass them, just keep going the way we are and it'll be good down the road."


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