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Flames-Canucks Preview

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Flames-Canucks Preview

GAME: Calgary Flames (20-11-4) at Vancouver Canucks (20-10-5).

TIME: Monday, 10 p.m. EST.

When the Calgary Flames started the season with four wins in their first 13 games, some may have thought they had little chance to repeat as Western Conference champions.

If they do go on to defend that title, they should thank the Vancouver Canucks.

Calgary looks for its fourth win of the season over struggling Vancouver when the teams conclude a two-game series at GM Place.

The Flames begin play in third place in the tight Northwest Division, one point behind second-place Vancouver and two in back of the front-running Edmonton Oilers.

The Flames opened the series with a 6-5 shootout win Thursday over the Canucks. Miikka Kiprusoff gave up five goals for the second time in three games, but denied Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi in the shootout.

The win also came one day after Kiprusoff admitted he had a nagging hip injury and withdrew his name from the Finnish Olympic team that will compete in February in Turin, Italy.

"I'm not playing 100 percent right now," said Kiprusoff, who still finished with 32 saves in regulation and overtime. "Pretty much the only chance to take a break is (the) Olympics and that's what I have to do because I want to be in great shape when real games start in the spring."

That means backup Philippe Sauve may start seeing more time in net. Sauve has not played since stopping 31 shots during a 4-1 win Dec. 7 over the New Jersey Devils.

Sauve is 3-0 with a 1.63 goals-against average, stopping 84 of 90 shots in his last three starts. He has never faced the Canucks.

After starting the season with 13 wins in 14 home games, the Canucks have dropped a season-high four straight - all at GM Place and each by one goal.

Two of the losses were in the shootout and another was in overtime, but Vancouver has blown nine leads and given up 20 goals during that stretch.

"These last few games have been pretty strange," said Vancouver's Brendan Morrison. "That said we have to find a way to win."

Alexander Auld has been in net for each of the last three games and has been torched for 15 goals in that span. He is 1-2-1 with a 2.70 GAA in his career against the Flames.

Rookie backup Maxime Ouellet has never faced Calgary.

Naslund, selected last week to represent Sweden in the Olympics, has four goals and two assists during a five-game points streak. Bertuzzi, a controversial pick for the Canadian Olympic squad, has a goal and four assists in his last two games.

STANDINGS: Flames - 44 points, 3rd place, 2 PB, Northwest Division. Canucks - 45 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Jarome Iginla, 15 goals, 15 assists and 30 points; Jason Wiemer, 65 PIM. Canucks - Naslund, 20 goals and 40 points; Henrik Sedin and Morrison, 23 assists; Wade Brookbank, 63 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 25): Flames - Power play: 16.0 percent (34 for 213), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.1 percent (179 for 218), 18th (tied). Canucks - Power play: 18.6 percent (45 for 242), 10th (tied). Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (175 for 213), 16th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Kiprusoff (17-10-4, 5 SO, 2.31 GAA); Sauve (3-1-0, 2.32). Canucks - Auld (12-7-3, 2.95); Ouellet (0-0-1, 4.69).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 23, Flames, 6-5 (SO); At Vancouver, British Columbia, Steve Reinprecht had two goals and an assist in regulation and scored one of two goals in the shootout for the Flames. Bertuzzi had three assists for the Canucks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flames - 8-8-2 on the road; Canucks - 13-2-3 at home.


Associated Press
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