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Jokinen scores as Flames defeat Thrashers

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

CALGARY - Olli Jokinen scored the eventual winner and Miikka Kiprusoff kept up his red-hot play with 24 saves as the Calgary Flames won 3-1 over the Atlanta Thrashers on Wednesday night.

Jarome Iginla had a pair of assists while Nigel Dawes and Rene Bourque, into an empty net, also scored for Calgary (19-8-3).

With a 2-0 lead on second-period goals by Dawes and Jokinen, Calgary looked in control until Atlanta ended Kiprusoff's shutout bid at 12:27 of the third drawing within one on a goal by Colby Armstrong.

Rich Peverley flung the puck towards the net and Armstrong had the rebound glance in off his skate as he battled in front with Flames defenceman Aaron Johnson.

However, Kiprusoff, as he's done much of the past three weeks, shut the door the rest of the way.

Since giving up six goals and getting pulled after 40 minutes in a 7-1 home ice loss to Chicago on Nov. 19, Kiprusoff has been the NHL's hottest goalie.

In nine starts since that rocky outing, Kiprusoff's gone 6-2-1, posted three shutouts, and allowed only 11 goals - good for a 1.22 goals-against average and stingy .957 save percentage.

Kiprusoff improves his season record to 17-7-3 and is just two wins back of league-leader Martin Brodeur from New Jersey.

Perhaps his biggest save of the night came in the second period with Calgary leading 1-0. Kiprusoff threw out his glove to stab a shot off the dangerous Ilya Kovalchuk who fired a shot labelled for the top corner.

The Flames, a sizzling 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, were playing at home for the first time since returning from a season-high six-game road trip in which they went 4-2-0.

Atlanta (15-10-3), which has lost three of its last four, departed immediately after the game to Vancouver where they'll wrap up a four-game road trip Thursday night against the Canucks.

After a scoreless opening period, Calgary took charge in the second scoring twice and outshooting Atlanta 14-6.

Dawes opened the scoring at 2:09 with his ninth of season, neatly deflecting Aaron Johnson's slapshot behind Johan Hedberg as he cruised through the slot.

The Flames increased their lead to 2-0 at 14:28 when Iginla set up Jokinen who overpowered Hedberg with a hard 40-foot slapshot that went in off the glove of the Thrashers goaltender.

Despite his empty-net goal, Bourque's struggles around the net continued. While on a 3-on-1 rush with Iginla, Bourque fired a harmless shot into the chest of Hedberg from a sharp angle. Ten minutes later, Bourque shot wide on an open net after a Dustin Boyd rebound came to him less than 10 feet from the net.

Bourque, who was the Flames leading scorer before an undisclosed injury on Nov. 19 sidelined him for six games, came into the game with just one assist in three games.

Notes: Calgary D Robyn Regehr (undisclosed) returned after missing one game. However, C Craig Conroy (undisclosed), who was shaken up Monday night in the Flames 2-1 loss at Los Angeles, was not in the lineup. ... Atlanta rookie LW Evander Kane was a healthy scratch. ...Giant six-foot-seven Atlanta D Boris Valabik made his season debut after being out all season with an ankle injury. ... Johnson's assist was his first point as a Flame. ... Calgary has scored first in 23 of its 30 games. ... Only the New York Islanders (11) and Colorado (12) have played less home games than Calgary (13). ... Calgary, who played 11 of its last 14 games on the road, began a 12-game stretch lasting into January in which they play nine times at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

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