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Flames-Blackhawks Preview @NHLdotcom

Mike Keenan was hired as coach of the Calgary Flames to take a contending team to the next level. A little more than two months into the season, the results have been far from acceptable.

The struggling Flames seek only their second win this month when they open a six-game road trip on Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite finishing with at least 96 points each of the past two seasons, the Flames were unable to advance past the first round of the playoffs under coach Jim Playfair.

For a team with arguably the league's best power forward in Jarome Iginla, ample scoring depth and an elite goaltender in Miikka Kiprusoff, that wasn't good enough so Keenan was hired to his eighth head coaching job on June 14.

Calgary (11-13-5), though, has been one of the NHL's biggest disappointments. It's tied with Edmonton for last in the Northwest Division and has yet to win more than two straight games.

The Flames gave up a short-handed goal midway through the third period Thursday against visiting Pittsburgh and lost 3-2 in a shootout.

Iginla scored twice in regulation and Kiprusoff stopped 33 shots as Calgary dropped to 7-7-4 at home after leading the league with 30 home wins last season.

"We did a lot of good things tonight," Iginla told the Flames' official Web site. "I thought Kipper played great, and like I say you get to a shootout, it feels great to win, but it feels just as bad to lose those ones."

It was the fifth loss in six games for the Flames, who will nor return home again until Dec. 21 when they meet Dallas.

"We know how desperate of a situation we're in," forward Craig Conroy said. "We have to get points and we have to get them whenever we can."

Calgary could be without defenseman Robyn Regehr on Sunday after he left Thursday's game in the second period with a bruised foot. He is listed as day-to-day.

Iginla's two-goal game Thursday was his third this season, and his 10th multi-point performance. He has three goals and five assists in his last five contests.

Although they have slumped lately, the Blackhawks (14-12-2) have been one of the league's biggest surprises. Behind the impressive play of rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Chicago could be a playoff team for the first time since 2001-02.

Despite registering 42 shots, the Blackhawks matched a season high with their third straight loss, 5-3 to Anaheim on Friday.

"I liked our desire, our grit, our will," Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said. "We have to bring it every night. If we do, we'll win lots of games. ... I know where we're at; we're very close. It's consistency we're looking for."

Toews scored his 11th goal to lead all NHL rookies while Patrick Sharp and Robert Lang also tallied for Chicago, which had won five straight at home before consecutive losses to Vancouver and Anaheim.

Kane leads all rookies with 28 points, but has gone 11 games without a goal.

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 30 shots in the Blackhawks' 2-1 victory at Calgary on Nov. 22. The Flames are 5-2-1 in their last eight visits to Chicago.

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