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Canucks-Flames Preview

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Canucks-Flames Preview

GAME: Vancouver Canucks (10-2-2) at Calgary Flames (6-7-2).

TIME: Saturday, 10 p.m. EST.

The last time the Calgary Flames saw the Vancouver Canucks, they were celebrating the start of their eventual run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The goaltender that got Calgary there is starting to play again like one of the league's best.

The Flames and Canucks renew acquaintances for the first time since their memorable first-round playoff series in 2004 when they meet for the first of two straight games at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"Right now we've got to get back to .500," Calgary's Jarome Iginla said. "It's our first opportunity to win three games in a row this year. Now, it's another good challenge for us to keep momentum going and keep gaining confidence and getting better as a group."

Calgary captured its first playoff series since winning the 1989 Stanley Cup by eliminating Vancouver in seven with Miikka Kiprusoff making 26 saves in the decisive game.

Kiprusoff - whose regular-season 1.69 goals-against average was the lowest since 1939-40 - was thrust into the spotlight during that series and brought Calgary within one win of the Cup.

Kiprusoff has struggled early, but is starting to play better. He needed to make only 16 saves in Calgary's 2-1 win Thursday over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In his last two games, Kiprusoff is 2-0 with a 0.50 goals-against average. Prior to that, he was just 4-6-2 with 2.80 GAA.

He is 4-3 with a 1.96 GAA and two career shutouts against the Canucks.

Vancouver has been dominant at home, winning seven in a row to start the season after a 5-3 win Friday over Columbus. Anson Carter nearly doubled his points total with a goal and two assists and Markus Naslund added a goal and an assist.

Naslund has 22 goals and 23 assists in 48 career games against the Flames.

The teams will skate again on Monday, also at Calgary.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 4): Canucks - 22 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Flames - 14 points, 4th place (tied), 8 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Markus Naslund, 8 goals and 16 points; Ed Jovanovski, 10 assists; Mattias Ohlund, 28 PIM. Flames - Iginla, 7 goals and 12 points; Roman Hamrlik, 8 assists; Darren McCarty, 37 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 4): Canucks - Power play: 17.4 percent (18 for 103), 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.5 percent (66 for 83), 22nd. Flames - Power play: 12.1 percent (12 for 99), 28th. Penalty killing: 77.6 percent (73 for 94), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Alex Auld (5-0-1, 0, 2.93); Rob MacVicar (no appearances). Flames - Kiprusoff (6-6-2, 2, 2.47); Philippe Sauve (0-1-0, 0, 3.04).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Canucks, 3-2-1.

LAST REGULAR-SEASON MEETING: Feb. 11, 2004; Flames, 3-2. At Vancouver, British Columbia, Iginla scored 28 seconds into the third period to snap a tie as the Flames rallied from a 2-0 deficit.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 3-2-2 on the road; Flames - 4-1-1 at home.


Associated Press
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