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Flames-Rangers Preview

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Flames-Rangers Preview

GAME: Calgary Flames (25-12-5) at New York Rangers (23-12-7).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.

For seven seasons, the Rangers watched as Petr Sykora provided plenty of offense for the Atlantic Division-rival New Jersey Devils.

New York hopes the 29-year-old right wing can be another offensive option when he makes his Rangers debut at Madison Square Garden against the Calgary Flames.

New York acquired Sykora on Sunday from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks along with a fourth-round pick in the 2007 entry draft for rookie defenseman Maxim Kondratiev.

While with the Devils, Sykora had seven goals, including two game-winners, and 15 assists in leading New Jersey to a 15-4-9 record against the Rangers from 1995-2002.

He had seven goals and 13 assists in 34 games with Anaheim, good for sixth on the team in scoring.

"Petr is a highly skilled offensive player, who adds speed and a scoring presence to our lineup", Rangers general manager Glen Sather said in a statement Sunday. "He is a versatile player, who we feel will play an important role on our team."

The Rangers hope the two-time 30-goal scorer can help them reach the playoffs for the first time since the 1996-97 season. Sykora led New Jersey with nine postseason goals in 2000 en route to their second Stanley Cup championship, defeating the Dallas Stars.

In 2000-01, he helped guide the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second consecutive season, tallying 12 goals and 10 assists in 25 postseason games. New Jersey lost in the Finals in seven games to the Colorado Avalanche.

New York has scored 125 goals this season, but 44 of them have come from leading scorer Jaromir Jagr (24) and unheralded rookie Petr Prucha (20).

Before announcing the deal, Jagr scored twice, Prucha added a power-play goal and fellow rookie Henrik Lundqvist made 38 saves in the Rangers' 4-0 win Sunday over the Florida Panthers, snapping a string of three straight overtime losses.

Calgary started its four-game road trip with a 4-3 overtime loss Saturday to the Vancouver Canucks, snapping the Flames' four-game winning streak. Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff was out of position when Vancouver's Brendan Morrison corralled a rebound and scored the game-winner with 2:53 left.

"That is the way the game goes sometimes," Kiprusoff said. "Sometimes the bounces work for you and some nights, like tonight they don't."

Kirpusoff leads the league with 22 wins and six shutouts, but has struggled on the road this season and has yet to defeat the Rangers. He is just 6-7-3 with a 3.09 goals-against average away from the Pengrowth Saddledome this season.

In three appearances versus New York, including two starts, Kiprusoff is 0-2-0 with a 3.48 GAA.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 9): Flames - 55 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Rangers - 53 points, 2nd place, 7 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Jarome Iginla, 17 goals and 33 points; Andrew Ference, 18 assists; Darren McCarty, 69 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 27 goals, 38 assists and 65 points; Michal Rozsival, 52 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 9): Flames - Power play: 17 percent (43 for 253), tied for 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (223 for 262), 19th. Rangers - Power play: 16.7 percent (40 for 240), 20th. Penalty killing: 85.7 percent (228 for 266), 2nd.

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Kiprusoff (22-10-5, 6 SO, 2.32 GAA); Philippe Sauve (3-2-0, 0, 2.62). Rangers - Lundqvist (15-5-5, 2, 2.06); Kevin Weekes (8-7-2, 0, 3.05).

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

LAST MEETING: Jan. 5, 2004; Flames, 5-0. Jamie McLennan made 36 saves and Ference scored twice for Calgary.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flames - 9-8-3 on the road; Rangers - 12-5-4 at home.


Associated Press
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