The Calgary Flames have jumped out to a big lead in the Northwest Division, thanks in very large part to Miikka Kiprusoff.
After getting a rare day off in Calgary's last matchup with Colorado, the workhorse goaltender will likely try and add to his NHL-leading win total Monday night when the Flames meets the Avalanche for the final time this season.
On Dec. 15, Calgary (30-14-4) trailed first-place Vancouver by two points in the Northwest Division, but it's gone 14-3-1 since to take an 11-point lead. The 29 points the Flames have collected during that stretch are the most in the Western Conference.
Kiprusoff has led Calgary during the run, as he's been in net for 17 of the Flames' last 18 games, going 14-2-1 with a 2.56 goals-against average after winning just 16 of his first 28 starts.
He picked up his league-best 30th victory Friday night, 3-1 over visiting Nashville, making 28 saves to send the Flames to their third straight win.
"Guys around here that have been playing with (Kiprusoff) a few years have come to know him that way and know he can make the big save," said center Matthew Lombardi, who scored his fifth goal Friday.
Kiprusoff has sat out only three contests this season - most recently Jan. 18, a 6-2 Calgary loss to Colorado (23-26-1). Given his recent track record against the Avalanche, Kiprusoff seems very likely to be in net Monday.
He's 7-1-1 with a 1.57 GAA and two shutouts in his last nine matchups versus the Avalanche, and has allowed five goals in starting the first four meetings of this season's series.
The Avalanche are 10-3-1 in their last 14 home games versus the Flames, but playing in Denver hasn't been beneficial for them lately. They fell to 1-5-0 on their season-high eight-game homestand with Saturday's 4-3 loss to Anaheim.
Colorado has lost seven of eight overall and sits last in the Northwest and near the bottom of the conference.
"We didn't find a way to get points and it's getting old," winger Ian Laperriere said Saturday. "We have to realize we don't have that many games left. We need to get on a roll and get back in the playoff race because we're falling behind right now."
Unlike the Flames, the Avalanche's goaltending situation has been shaky lately. With Andrew Raycroft struggling through a personal five-start losing streak, Peter Budaj - not much better at 1-5-0 with a 3.92 GAA in his last seven starts - made 27 saves against the Ducks.
Budaj is expected to start Monday, according to the Avalanche's official Web site. He's been in net for this season's first five meetings with the Flames, compiling a 2.84 GAA.
The Avs will try to cool down Calgary winger Michael Cammalleri, who's recorded 11 of his team-leading 25 goals along with three assists during a career high-tying eight-game point streak. Cammalleri has two goals and four assists against Colorado in 2008-09.