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Preview: Flames vs. Blues

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

Although the St. Louis Blues already have one victory over the Calgary Flames this season, it could be harder to duplicate that feat if they have to face Miikka Kiprusoff.

Kiprusoff owns an outstanding history against the Blues, who will look for a fourth straight win Friday night in Calgary.

The Flames (3-4-1) outscored the Blues 14-3 in sweeping all four meetings last season, with Kiprusoff starting each one and posting a 0.75 goals-against average with two shutouts.

St. Louis (5-4-0) faced Calgary backup Henrik Karlsson on Oct. 10 and posted a 5-2 home win behind two points apiece from Andy McDonald, Alex Pietrangelo and Jason Arnott.

Kiprusoff's 1.94 GAA against St. Louis is his best against any Western Conference opponent. He's 18-2-2 with a 1.75 GAA in his last 22 starts versus the Blues.

While it is clear that Kiprusoff is the Flames' No. 1 choice over Karlsson, the Blues have been using Brian Elliott over presumed starter Jaroslav Halak lately. Halak has not won since beating the Flames, posting a 4.18 GAA in losing his last three starts.

Elliott, meanwhile, is 4-0-0 and has a 1.31 GAA during the Blues' win streak. He stopped 32 shots for his 10th career shutout - his first with St. Louis - in Wednesday's 3-0 victory at Vancouver.

"Our team is playing so well right now," Elliott said. "Guys are getting in shot lanes and blocking shots. Nothing really got through. All the guys are in it together. All the guys are buying into it and wanting to win every game."

Elliott is 1-2-0 with a 2.38 GAA in three starts against Calgary.

St. Louis is seeking its first four-game win streak since winning five in a row Dec. 21-31. The Blues have improved on the penalty kill, allowing one goal in seven chances during this run after yielding at least one power-play tally in each of their first six games.

Alex Steen scored twice Wednesday. He has a team-high five goals, but has totaled just one point - an assist - in eight career games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"It's always fun playing the Canadian teams," Steen said. "You get pumped up for the games."

The Flames are looking to claim consecutive victories for the first time after Wednesday's 4-2 win over Colorado, which featured 34 saves by Kiprusoff.

"You have to just keep doing the same things," Kiprusoff said. "It doesn't matter whether it's 15 shots or five shots or one shot - you just have to keep your eyes on the puck and keep it simple and not think about too much."

Rene Bourque scored twice to push his team-leading total to five for Calgary, which had at least 33 shots for the third straight contest. Before Wednesday, the Flames had totaled six goals over their previous four games.

"With our team, the more we shoot the puck, the more opportunities we get," coach Brent Sutter said. "It seems that we generate more offense in the offensive zone when we're in that mindset, not looking for the quick play every time."

The Blues are looking to improve the NHL's worst power play, which has converted just 2 of 30 chances (6.7 percent).

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