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Kobasew's 2 goals lead Minnesota to a 4-3 victory over the Flames

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Chuck Kobasew is finding his scoring touch - the Minnesota Wild just hope its not too late.

Kobasew scored a pair of goals in the Wild's 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday to give him four in Minnesota's last four games.

The former Flames and Boston Bruins winger, who was acquired from Boston on Oct. 18, returned on March 3 from a 23-game absence due to a knee injury. He has been rounding into form while Minnesota fights to keep its playoff hopes alive.

The Wild moved within seven points of the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings with Sunday's victory.

"I felt better the last couple games," Kobasew said. "It was tougher coming back from the injury than I thought it would be. The timing, the speed of the game at this time in the year is faster than it was when I was out."

Minnesota is a long shot to make the playoffs as Detroit has a game in hand and the Wild still have St. Louis and Calgary in its way.

The Flames missed an opportunity to pull even with Detroit in the Western Conference standings at 83 points. Calgary also lost Daymond Langkow, their third-leading scorer, when he was hit in the back of the neck with a puck in the second period. Langkow left the ice on a stretcher, but the team later reported he had feeling in all his extremities.

Langkow's return to the team is unknown as he still has X-rays and tests to undergo.

Langkow assisted on Steve Staios' first-period power-play goal - the veteran's first goal since Jan. 16, 2009, at Colorado as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. But the Flames' lead was short lived.

The Wild tied it 34 seconds later at 13:17 when Andrew Brunette sneaked the puck through Vesa Toskala's pads from the goal line, then took the lead with 42 seconds remaining in the first period on Guillaume Latendresse's team-leading 26th goal of the season. Latendresse's power-play tally snapped an 0-for-9 power-play skid for Minnesota.

Kobasew's goal at 3:05 of the second period made the score 3-1 and ended Toskala's day. He topped nine of the 12 shots he faced. Miikka Kiprusoff allowed one goal on nine shots the rest of the way.

"We play a lot of games, we play every two days," coach Brent Sutter said. "Your backup goaltender has got to start at some point in time. We're still going to need him down the stretch here."

Less than three minutes after Toskala was pulled, Langkow was forced to leave on a stretcher.

Langkow was checked from behind by Minnesota defenceman Greg Zanon and hit Wild defenceman Marek Zidlicky as he lost his balance and fell forward. With Langkow's head down as he fell, Calgary defenceman Ian White fired toward the net and hit his teammate.

Langkow was not moving as he was removed from the ice on a stretcher. The 13-year veteran remained on the ice for nearly 10 minutes before leaving.

"We were definitely a little bit rattled," Staios said. "After that, you've got to get yourself back focused on the game, but there's definitely a time when you're afraid for him, and it becomes a difficult situation to deal with."

White responded with a goal 32 seconds later, but Kobasew provided the eventual game-winner at 17:23.

"He's been able to finish," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "He's finding ways to score. Hopefully this gives him some confidence moving forward."

Eric Nystrom once again trimmed the Flames' deficit to one with a goal at 5:49 of the third period and Calgary pulled Kiprusoff with 72 seconds left for a late flurry, but couldn't pull even.

Matt Stajan had two assists for the Flames, who have lost five times in six games against Minnesota this season. Josh Harding made 29 saves for the Wild.

Mikko Koivu had a pair of assists for Minnesota, which won its third straight game at home but still faces a tough schedule to close out the season - including road contests at Philadelphia, Detroit, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

"We have nothing to lose, we have everything to win now," Latendresse said. "That's the way we have to see it. We know its going to be hard. Its going to be really hard to make it. But if we don't try, we're never going to know."

Notes: The top two goaltenders on Finland's Olympic team both started Sunday's game on the bench. Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom was available for the first time since March 9 due to a groin injury but served as Harding's backup. Kiprusoff, 0-2-1 in three starts against the Wild this season, replaced Toskala at 3:05 of the second period. ... D Brent Burns (hip) returned from a six-game absence and assisted on Kobasew's second goal. Zanon was back on the ice after missing one game because of a broken ankle.


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