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Flames-Flyers Preview

GAME: Calgary Flames (16-9-3) at Philadelphia Flyers (15-6-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.

The injury list keeps growing for the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers, already without leading scorer Peter Forsberg and starting goaltender Robert Esche, will be missing defenseman Joni Pitkanen when they meet the Calgary Flames.

Pitkanen, fourth among defensemen in scoring, will be sidelined four to six weeks after surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle.

Severe groin injuries have sidelined Forsberg and Esche. Forsberg, out the last four games, is questionable for this contest. Esche is expected to miss another week.

"There's a lineup of teams going through this," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said of the injuries. "It's the haves and have-nots. There seems to be one extreme. Either everybody has a healthy team or you have a ton of injuries. We're obviously on the latter."

With Esche out of action, the Flyers will look to Antero Nittymaki as they come off their first shootout. Nittymaki made 29 saves in regulation, but was beaten twice in the shootout during a 4-3 loss Saturday to the Nashville Predators.

"There's a lot of times where youre got your starter and your backup has to go and you take a step backwards. We don't," Hitchcock said. "Were really lucky with that. Niittymaki has played really well and he gives us a chance to win every night."

Philadelphia has dropped three of four at home to Calgary since Oct. 23, 1997.

The Flames ended a nearly 17-year winless drought in Pittsburgh on Saturday with a 3-2 victory over the Penguins. Newly acquired Kristian Huselius assisted on all three goals for the Flames, who posted their first win at Mellon Arena since Feb. 12, 1989.

"It's fun to be here, it's only one game but it's a good start. I want to keep it up and get better every day," said Huselius, who matched his season total for assists in one night.

Calgary will be looking for its 13th win in 16 games overall.

Jarome Iginla has not scored a goal in the last eight games, but has a three-game goal scoring streak against the Flyers. The last time Iginla had a goal-scoring drought of longer than eight games was a 10-game streak from Dec. 7-27, 1999.

Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff remains of the league's hottest goaltenders. Since Nov. 1, Kiprusoff is 10-2-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .924 save percentage with two shutouts.

Kiprusoff is 2-0 with a 1.94 GAA and .934 save percentage in his career against the Flyers.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 5): Flames - 35 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Northwest Division. Flyers - 34 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla, 11 goals, 13 assists and 24 points; Darren McCarty, 49 PIM. Flyers - Simon Gagne, 23 goals; Forsberg, 31 assists and 39 points; Pitkanen, 42 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 5): Flames - Power play: 14.8 percent (26 for 175), tied for 25th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (136 for 168), 23rd. Flyers - Power play: 20.1 percent (33 for 164), 6th. Penalty killing: 76.4 percent (120 for 157), 30th.

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Kiprusoff (14-8-3, 3 SO, 2.29 GAA); Philippe Sauve (2-1-0, 0, 2.68). Flyers - Niittymaki (5-2-2, 0, 3.38); Jamie Storr (no appearances).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Flames, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec 16, 2003; Flames 3-2 (OT). At Philadelphia, Dean McAmmond scored his second goal with 87 seconds to play in overtime for Calgary.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flames - 6-7-1 on the road; Flyers - 10-3-2 at home.

Associated Press
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