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At the Rink: Ducks at Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller is a veteran of 339 NHL games. Number 340, though, will feature a first for the 32-year-old.

It will come against the only team he's never faced: the Anaheim Ducks.

Hiller is set to face the Ducks for the first time, the team with whom he spent his first seven seasons and 326 games of his NHL career.

"It definitely makes it a little more special than a regular game," Hiller said. "I'm definitely excited about it, especially when I found out I would start. I'm still excited about that. Hopefully I can carry that over and play well.

"Thinking about it, it definitely makes it a little more special, but in the end it's two points we want to win [Tuesday]. That's got to be the goal."

The Ducks are expecting Hiller to be fired up.

After all, they know him pretty well.

"[Hiller] was a great teammate and great guy around our team and around our dressing room," said Corey Perry, who was a teammate of Hiller's starting in 2007. "He's one of those guys that get up for these types of things. He's a guy that really enjoys this.

"I haven't done it, but I think any time you play your former team against teammates you get up for the game and get ready. It's going to be exciting. It's an exciting time for him."

Hiller's tenure with the Ducks ended unceremoniously last spring.

Citing a lack of confidence, Hiller admitted he wasn't at his best from the Olympic break onward and was eventually surpassed on the depth chart by current starter Frederik Andersen, 25, and 21-year-old upstart John Gibson.

After the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings eliminated Anaheim in the Western Conference Second Round, Hiller ventured into free agency for the first time in his career. He and the Flames quickly settled on a two-year contract on the opening day of free agency.

But the way he was ushered out of Orange County didn't sit well with the Swiss goaltender.

"I had seven great years in Anaheim," said Hiller, who has an 8-4-1 record with a 2.30 goals-against average and .922 save percentage with Calgary. "I obviously enjoyed it and thought I was always treated well and everything. Yeah, sure, in the end hockey's a business and what happened there at the end of last year is part of the hockey business which is not so fun, especially as a player.

"It's part of the business. You have to find a way to check it off, and I'm excited for a fresh start and am glad things are going well right now."

Flames coach Bob Hartley wasn't hesitant to throw Hiller in against his former squad.

He believes his goaltender is properly motivated.

"He knows what he has to do," Hartley said. "For him, he can go back to last year or not. That's up to him. You need to turn the page at a certain time and you need to move forward. We've all been involved in those situations and they're not fun, but at the same time it opens doors for new opportunities and he's taking full advantage of it.

"As far as I look at Jonas every day, he doesn't look like an unhappy player."

Here are the projected lineups:


Emerson Etem - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Matt Beleskey - Ryan Kesler - Kyle Palmieri

Andrew Cogliano - William Karlsson - Jakob Silfverberg

Patrick Maroon - Rickard Rakell - Tim Jackman

Cam Fowler - Clayton Stoner

Bryan Allen - Josh Manson

Hampus Lindholm - Sami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen

Jason LaBarbera

Scratched: Nate Thompson, Mat Clark, Chris Wagner

Injured: Devante Smith-Pelly (upper body), Francois Beauchemin (mumps), Ben Lovejoy (finger), John Gibson (groin), Dany Heatley (groin)


Curtis Glencross - Sean Monahan - Devin Setoguchi

Johnny Gaudreau - Markus Granlund - Jiri Hudler

Sven Baertschi - Josh Jooris - Paul Byron

Brandon Bollig - Lance Bouma - Brian McGrattan

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Ladislav Smid - Deryk Engelland

Jonas Hiller

Karri Ramo

Scratched: Raphael Diaz, Max Reinhart

Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Mikael Backlund (abdomen), Joe Colborne (upper body), Matt Stajan (knee), Mason Raymond (shoulder), Michael Ferland (concussion), David Jones (upper body)

Status report: Beauchemin has rejoined the Ducks in Calgary after being hospitalized with the mumps. He could return to the lineup as early as Thursday. … Jones left the Flames' 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and will not play.

Who's hot: Before being kept off the score sheet against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, Kesler had points in five straight games. … Giordano has matched a career-high nine game point streak, with five goals and nine assists in that span.

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