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Canucks-Flames Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Vancouver Canucks (33-21-5) at Calgary Flames (33-17-7).

TIME: Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST.

Miikka Kiprusoff sat out Finland's surprising run to the silver medal at the Turin Games, resting a sore hip and getting ready to try and lead the Calgary Flames into the playoffs.

With the Olympics over, Kiprusoff looks to become the first goaltender to reach 30 wins this season and give the Flames some breathing room atop the Northwest Division when they meet the Vancouver Canucks.

Calgary holds a two-point lead over second-place Vancouver in the tightly bunched Northwest, which has its top four teams separated by five points. The Flames and Canucks meet for the final time in the regular season April 8 in Vancouver.

Kiprusoff was expected to be the starter for Finland, but issued a statement backing out in late December.

"I have always been very proud to represent my country in international competition and I'm disappointed that I will not be joining them at the Olympics in Italy," he said.

Antero Nittymaki of the Philadelphia Flyers took over as Finland's top goalie, and posted a 3.06 goals-against average as the Finns won their first seven games and reached the tournament's final game, losing 3-2 to Sweden.

Kiprusoff is tied with Dallas' Marty Turco for the league lead with 29 wins.

Calgary will be looking for its fourth victory in a row. In the Flames' last game before the break, rookie defenseman Dion Phaneuf scored his second goal of the game in overtime in a 3-2 win over St. Louis on Feb. 10.

"It was our goal since the first day of camp to be in first place by the Olympic break," Phaneuf said. "Now that we've achieved that, we're going to have to enjoy this break, come back refreshed, and make a big run to the playoffs."

The Canucks are looking for their third consecutive victory over the Flames after dropping the first four meetings of the season by one goal. Vancouver is also seeking its fourth win in five road games overall.

Swedish Olympian Daniel Sedin scored 1:26 into overtime in Vancouver's final game before the break, giving the Canucks a 3-2 win over Minnesota on Feb. 12.

"It was a big win for us against a division rival," he said.

With 51 points, Sedin is four shy of a new career best. He had 54 points for the Canucks in 2003-04.

Sedin has seven assists during a four-game point streak against the Flames.

STANDINGS: Canucks - 71 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Northwest Division. Flames - 73 points, 1st place, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Markus Naslund, 26 goals and 60 points; Henrik Sedin, 43 assists; Todd Bertuzzi, 96 PIM. Flames - Jarome Iginla, 25 goals and 44 points; Phaneuf and Andrew Ference, 23 assists; Darren McCarty, 84 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 27): Canucks - Power play: 19.0 percent (73 for 385), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.2 percent (303 for 373), 18th. Flames - Power play: 18.3 percent (62 for 339), 11th. Penalty killing: 82.4 percent (290 for 352), 14th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Alex Auld (25-16-3, 2.86 GAA); Maxime Ouellet (0-2-1, 3.24). Flames - Kiprusoff (29-14-7, 6 SO, 2.23); Brian Boucher (4-6-0, 3.66).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 4-2.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 3; Canucks, 3-1. At Calgary, Alberta, Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist, and Daniel Sedin added three assists as Vancouver coach Marc Crawford earned his 400th win.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 13-16-2 on the road; Flames - 20-5-3 at home.

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