Flames goalie Mike Smith seen on the ice in practice Tuesday

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Calgary Flames goalie Mike Smith clears the puck. (Lyle Aspinall/CP)

Losers of four straight contests and needing to leapfrog three teams to get back into a playoff spot, things haven’t been looking great for the Calgary Flames.

However, they received some good news Tuesday when injured goaltender Mike Smith glided onto the ice to practice with his teammates in Buffalo for the first time since he went down three weeks ago.

There’s yet to be a firm return date for the Calgary netminder, but seeing him back on the ice had to have been at least an encouraging sign to both Smith’s teammates and to nervous Flames fans.

Smith was forced to exit a Feb. 11 game against the New York Islanders with just two seconds left with what ended up being a groin injury. In 47 starts from Smith, the Flames are 24-17-6. But in the 11 games that he’s been forced out of the lineup for they’re just 3-6-2, including the four-game slide they find themselves in now that was extended Monday night in Pittsburgh.

The Flames play the Sabres in Buffalo on Wednesday. They’re three points back of Los Angeles Kings for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 15 games left to play.

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