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Kings-Flames Preview

GAME: Los Angeles Kings (21-13-1) at Calgary Flames (19-10-4).

TIME: Wednesday, 9 p.m. EST.

Center Craig Conroy returns to the city where he enjoyed the most successful run of his 11-year career when the Los Angeles Kings continue their three-game road trip through western Canada against the Calgary Flames.

Conroy recorded a team-high 39 assists for Calgary in the 2003-04 season and helped spark the Flames' run to the Stanley Cup finals, posting six goals, 11 assists and a plus-12 rating during the playoffs.

Calgary lost the series to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games, and Conroy left the Flames in July 2004, signing a four-year, $12.6 million deal with the Kings.

"I feel the Kings are committed to winning and I am excited about the direction they are heading," Conroy said at the time. "When it came right down to it, I thought L.A. was the best fit for me. I just felt they really wanted me."

Conroy set career highs with 27 goals and 48 assists in 2001-02, his first season with Calgary after being acquired from the St. Louis Blues.

Conroy was also one of 23 players named Monday to the U.S. Olympic team that will compete in February at the Turin Games. Later that day, he scored a short-handed goal in the Kings' 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

"I thought maybe I had a chance, but I thought I had a chance last time too so I didn't get too excited and I was pretty happy when I heard my name," Conroy said of being named to the Olympic squad.

Conroy has two goals and three assists in his last two games.

The Flames will be trying to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss in their last outing. Miikka Kiprusoff allowed a goal to Fernando Pisani with 45 seconds to play Monday that gave Edmonton a 5-4 win over Calgary.

"Usually Kipper is really sharp and he wasn't very sharp tonight," Flames coach Darryl Sutter said of his goalie. "When you score four goals you should win the game."

Kiprusoff had given up five total goals in his previous five games.

While Kiprusoff suffered through a rough game, Flames captain Jarome Iginla has been struggling to produce on home ice for a while. Iginla hasn't scored a goal at the Pengrowth Saddledome in six games, his longest stretch without a goal at home since an eight-game drought from Dec. 7, 2003-Jan. 3, 2004.

Iginla, though, has three goals and two assists in his last two home games against the Kings.

Calgary is 9-2-2 in its last 13 meetings with Los Angeles, which concludes its trip Friday night against the Oilers.

STANDINGS: Kings - 43 points, 1st place (tied), Pacific Division. Flames - 42 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Pavol Demitra, 17 goals, 24 assists and 41 points; Sean Avery, 118 PIM. Flames - Iginla, 13 goals, 15 assists and 28 points; Jason Wiemer, 28 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Kings - Power play: 15 percent (35 for 232), 27th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.7 percent (177 for 214), 15th. Flames - Power play: 15.7 percent (31 for 197), 18th (tied). Penalty killing: 82.5 percent (166 for 201), 17th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Kings - Mathieu Garon (13-7-0, 2.68 GAA); Jason LaBarbera (8-6-1, 2.90). Flames - Kiprusoff (16-9-4, 5 SO, 2.17); Philippe Sauve (3-1-0, 2.32).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 23, 2005; Flames, 3-2. At Los Angeles, Chris Simon's second goal of the game, coming on a power play with 30 seconds to play, lifted Calgary to the win.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 9-7-1 on the road; Flames - 12-2-2 at home.

Associated Press
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