CALGARY, Alberta (AP) - Miikka Kiprusoff was back in net for the Calgary Flames, well-rested and unbeatable.
Kiprusoff made 39 saves as the Flames climbed into a tie for first place in the Northwest Division with a 1-0 victory Tuesday night over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"He was our best player tonight," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. "Everybody in the building knows that. Certainly he made the difference for us. He kept us in the game when they were really pushing early and then he was just stellar throughout the game from start to finish."
Craig Conroy got the game's only goal at 5:49 of the third. Eric Nystrom's shoot-in attempt glanced off the stick of Blue Jackets defenseman Aaron Rome and was scooped up by Conroy as he charged into the Columbus end. The veteran center cut to the net, and while fending off defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, fired a backhander over the blocker of Pascal Leclaire.
On the Flames' two-game road trip, Keenan replaced Kiprusoff with Curtis Joseph to start the second period of Friday night's 3-1 loss to Anaheim after Kiprusoff yielded two goals on 11 shots. Joseph remained in goal for the Flames 3-1 win in Phoenix on Saturday.
Getting Kiprusoff more rest down the stretch was the main reason the Flames brought in Joseph.
"I discussed that with Miikka, even after the Anaheim game, that we have to find a little bit more of a balance," Keenan said. "And that's what we're going to try to work for and work at."
Conroy acknowledged that Kiprusoff did look more rested, as he got peppered for 18 shots in the first period.
"He's getting a break every now and then and when he's fresh, he looks very good," Conroy said.
Kiprusoff said an advantage to getting a game off is the opportunity to be busier in practice.
"If you get a night off, you're able to have a couple real hard practices," said Kiprusoff, who recorded his 26th career shutout. "When you play a lot, you have to be smarter and get some rest."
Combined with Minnesota's 4-2 loss at home to Chicago, the Flames are level with the Wild atop the division with 79 points each. Each team has 15 games remaining.
It was the second shutout of the season for Kiprusoff, who improved to 33-20-9. The two shutouts have come in his last five games.
"It was one of those games that you fear because the longer that it goes, the more experienced team like Calgary seems to find a way to score a goal," Columbus center Mike Peca said. "And sure enough, that's the way it ended up."
Halfway through the opening period, Kiprusoff showed his quickness getting across the net to thwart Nikolai Zherdev on a 2-on-1.
The Blue Jackets had numerous chances with the extra man to take the lead over the first two periods, but went 0-for-5 on power plays. Columbus has gone eight games without a power-play goal, 0-for-26 over that span.
"Our power play was not good enough tonight, especially on the 5-on-3," Columbus' Rick Nash said. "We didn't even get one really great scoring chance and that's unacceptable."
Columbus held a two-man advantage for 1:19 of the second period. But the Jackets were unable to generate a dangerous chance, getting just one shot on goal.
Making his ninth straight start in goal for Columbus, Leclaire finished with 18 saves.
Notes: Calgary D Cory Sarich, whose consecutive games streak came to an end on Saturday at 453, was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row. ... Calgary played the second game in a stretch of eight straight against teams that as of Tuesday night were not in playoff position. ... The scoring slumps for Kristian Huselius and C Matthew Lombardi continue. Lombardi has no goals in 18 games and one in his last 29, while Huselius has no goals in 19. ... Nash had his five-game points streak snapped, and remained one point away from matching his career high (57).