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Flames-Canucks Preview @NHL

Miikka Kiprusoff is starting to show the form that helped him win his first Vezina Trophy last season. Coincidentally, the Calgary Flames have started playing their best hockey of this season.

The Flames (6-7-2) look for their season-high fourth win in a row Saturday when they meet the injury-riddled Vancouver Canucks at GM Place.

Kiprusoff set career highs with 42 wins and 10 shutouts last season, but got off to a miserable start in 2006-07. He was 3-7-1 with a 2.84 goals-against average in his first 11 starts, and allowed three or more goals in eight of those contests.

But he's won his last three starts while posting a 1.00 GAA. He had his best game of the season Friday, stopping all 37 shots he faced in Calgary's 3-0 win over Anaheim, ending the Ducks' NHL record 16-game streak without a regulation loss at the start of a season.

"Kipper was unbelievable as always," said Tony Amonte, who scored a goal and has three in his last two games. "He made some unbelievable saves. He's a top-notch goalie. He's proven it to himself. When he's on his game, you just can't get a puck by him."

The Flames and Canucks (8-8-1) split the season series in 2005-06, with Calgary taking the first four games and Vancouver posting wins in the final four. Seven of the games were one-goal decisions, with the other decided by two.

Kiprusoff was in net for all eight games for Calgary. In the four wins, he allowed just nine goals for a 2.21 GAA, and also recorded a shutout. In the losses - two of which came in overtime - he gave up 12 goals for a 2.96 GAA.

Despite poor goaltending and a rash of injuries, the Canucks still find themselves near the top of the Northwest Division. Vancouver, though, is looking for answers and a better defensive effort after a 6-0 loss Thursday to Anaheim.

Roberto Luongo, acquired in the off-season to give the Canucks a solid presence in goal for the first time since reaching the 1994 Stanley Cup finals, allowed three goals on just nine shots and was replaced by rookie Dany Sabourin for the first time this season.

"It doesn't matter whether I was surprised to be pulled or not. I mean three goals on nine shots, it was one of those nights," Luongo said. "I don't think I'll look at this game as a bad outing."

Having spent the first six years of his career in the Eastern Conference with the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers, Luongo has faced the Flames just twice and has a loss, a tie and a 3.39 GAA.

The Canucks have dropped four of their last five overall, scoring just eight goals in those contests. Still, they're only three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Northwest.

That itself is a surprise considering injuries to key defensemen. Sami Salo has missed the last three games with a knee injury, Willie Mitchell hasn't played since Oct. 23 after suffering a concussion and Rory Fitzpatrick will miss the next 4 to 6 weeks with a broken foot.

The replacements - Patrick Coulombe, Alexander Edler and Nathan McIver - all are 21 years old or younger, and the trio was a combined minus-6 in Thursday's loss.

"We just have to respond better," veteran Canucks blueliner Mattias Ohlund said. "For some reason, we didn't play hard enough tonight and we're not going to beat any team in the league playing like we did."

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