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Preview: Flames vs. Blue Jackets

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

After earning his first shutout of the season, Miikka Kiprusoff seems like an excellent choice to start the Calgary Flames' next game.

Kiprusoff has never lost in regulation at home against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets, who visit Thursday night as the Flames try for their first three-game win streak.

Calgary (10-12-1) won 1-0 over Nashville on Tuesday as Kiprusoff made 26 saves for his first shutout in his last 34 starts. He's been sharp against Central Division foes this season, posting a 2.02 goals-against average despite splitting eight starts.

"I think we played pretty smart," he said. "They only had one or two very good chances."

The Flames would like their chances against Columbus (6-15-3) if Kiprusoff gets the call. He's 11-0-2 with a 1.81 GAA in 13 starts at the Saddledome against the Blue Jackets.

Calgary is 14-4-2 all-time at home versus Columbus.

Coach Brent Sutter used backup Henrik Karlsson in the teams' first meeting this season, a 4-1 loss at Columbus on Nov. 21. Karlsson made 26 saves as he was beaten by Curtis Sanford, who had 27.

Sanford could make his eighth straight start for Columbus. He has posted a 1.61 GAA while replacing the struggling Steve Mason, who is 0-3-1 with a 4.60 GAA in five career starts at Calgary.

The Flames will be without defenseman Mark Giordano, who was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury suffered Tuesday. Giordano ranks second on the team in ice time, and he scored Calgary's goal in the first matchup with Columbus.

"He's one of your top defenseman and he plays a lot of minutes and certainly his minutes are hard minutes because he plays hard," Sutter said. "But again, as a group we'll have to again make sure that we cover for that loss and everyone just has to pull their socks up, and our lineup will be our lineup and whoever plays will have to do a good job for us."

Calgary has won consecutive games for the second time. Derek Smith had the lone goal Tuesday, becoming the sixth different Flames skater to score over the last two contests.

"Everyone's contributing," Sutter said. "It's just not about this guy scoring, this guy scoring. Everyone's contributing the way they're playing in all areas of the ice, which is really important, and that's the team play we talked about."

Columbus has dropped two straight after a 3-0-2 stretch. The Blue Jackets began a four-game swing through Canada with Tuesday's 4-1 loss to Vancouver.

"I think we have to take it game-by-game," captain Rick Nash told the Blue Jackets' official website. "We've had a good stretch here, but we can't let this be a setback. We've been playing well and we're staying in games. Coming back with a couple of wins off this road trip is going to be huge."

Jeff Carter has gone four straight games without a goal since his two-goal effort in the first meeting with Calgary. Carter failed to register a point in his first five meetings with the Flames when he played for Philadelphia.

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