GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (21-27-6-2) at Calgary Flames (26-20-5-3).
TIME: Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST.
The Calgary Flames are about to get a significant boost to their defense.
Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to be ready to go when the Flames meet the
struggling Atlanta Thrashers at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
The Flames, who headed into the All-Star break tied for sixth in the Western
Conference with St. Louis, Nashville and Los Angeles, are thankful Kiprusoff is
back because they haven't been getting much lately from their goaltending duo
of Roman Turek and Jamie McLennan.
Kiprusoff, who has missed the last 19 games due to a sprained knee, was
traded to Calgary on Nov. 16 by San Jose after losing his backup role to Vesa
But when healthy, Kiprusoff has played like anything but a backup. He
compiled a 1.48 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in 16 games
before getting hurt against Minnesota on Dec. 29.
McLennan has allowed four goals in three of his last five starts and Turek,
who has also struggled with injuries, has won just three of 11 decisions all
Calgary has won just three of its last 12 at home (3-7-2), including a 2-1
loss to St. Louis on Thursday.
Dean McAmmond scored and Turek made 24 saves for the Flames.
The Thrashers are in a free fall and the only thing coach Bob Hartley can do
is sit people down.
Atlanta fell to 0-6-2 since winning two straight from Jan. 18-20 with
Thursday's 5-1 home loss to Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia. Serge
Aubin scored the lone goal for the Thrashers, who are nine points behind the
New York Islanders in the race for the conference's final playoff spot with 26
games to play.
Ilya Kovalchuk, voted a starter in Sunday's All-Star game, was benched in
the second period after his turnover led to a goal by Simon Gagne.
"The only way to keep players accountable is ice time," Hartley said.
"Ice time is the biggest reward and sometimes it's the biggest punishment."
Dany Heatley has one goal and a minus-6 rating in five games since returning
from the injuries sustained in the car crash that killed teammate Dan Snyder on
Sept. 23, 2003.
Atlanta has won only twice in 19 games overall (2-13-3-1).
"It's definitely an uphill climb," Atlanta center Marc Savard said.
"We're going to see who the real troupers are in here."