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Calgary clinches playoff spot with a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars

The Canadian Press
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Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (34) throws a block on Dallas Stars centre Steve Ott (29) as defender Adrian Aucoin (33) pressures from behind in the first period. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Tim Sharp) Author: The Hockey News

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Calgary clinches playoff spot with a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars

The Canadian Press
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DALLAS - With a playoff spot assured, the Calgary Flames now have their sights set on loftier goals.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 29 saves, Craig Conroy scored the go-ahead goal and the Calgary Flames clinched a playoff spot with a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. The Flames can focus on gaining home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Calgary is tied with Vancouver for the Northwest Division lead following the Canucks' shootout loss to Anaheim on Thursday night.

"Making the playoffs is just a step on the way to another one," said Calgary's Jarome Iginla, who scored his 33rd goal. "We didn't even talk about it afterward. I'm sure we'll talk about it on the bus, but our goal is more than that."

The Flames will make their fifth consecutive post-season appearance despite dropping eight of their last 13 games.

Before this recent slide, Calgary had a 10-point lead over Vancouver in Northwest on March 6. The Canucks and the Flames play each other Tuesday night in Vancouver.

"It's a huge win for us," Calgary left wing Eric Nystrom said. "We want to get the ball rolling and build off the good things we did."

Rookie Fabian Brunnstrom had a goal, and Marty Turco stopped 22 shots for Dallas.

Dallas has dropped eight of nine. With four games left, the Stars are likely to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

While still mathematically alive, Dallas would have to climb past four teams to finish eighth in the Western Conference.

"You have to keep pushing every day," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "You have to will yourself until someone tells you it's done."

Conroy deflected Dion Phaneuf's shot from the slot past Turco to give the Flames a 2-1 lead with 7:39 left in the second period. After giving up an early goal, Kiprusoff secured the win by turning away two power plays and stopping 10 shots in the third.

"He's one of the best," Dallas' Mike Modano said of Kiprusoff. "He's very established and we didn't get much in terms of quality chances."

The Flames were short a defenceman after Robyn Regehr left early with a lower body injury. Calgary coach Mike Keenan said Regehr is day to day.

"Injuries are part of the game," Calgary defenceman Jordan Leopold said. "This isn't the time of year when you want them. But we've got depth for a reason."

The Stars, who snapped a seven-game skid Tuesday night against Los Angeles, took the early lead on Brunnstrom's 14th goal. The rookie scored on a back-hander at 3:02 of the first.

Iginla hit the right post with his shot and the puck deflected off the back of Turco's skate and just crossed the goal line to tie it at 10:40.

Notes: Eight players were scratched from the Dallas lineup, including D Trevor Daley (lower body), D Stephane Robidas (lower body) and C Brian Sutherby (lower body). ... The Flames were 0-for-2 on the power play. Calgary has not scored in its last 19 chances with a man advantage over five games. ... Dallas will play its final home game of the season Saturday against St. Louis.

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Calgary clinches playoff spot with a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars