Few teams rely on their goaltender as heavily as the Calgary Flames do on Miikka Kiprusoff. Given his recent play, that could be a cause for concern.
Calgary hopes to avoid matching a season-high, four-game losing streak Friday when it faces the Los Angeles Kings in the opener of six-game homestand.
Kiprusoff has been one of the league's busiest goaltenders, making 32 starts. Only Vancouver's Roberto Luongo (35) and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (34) have more.
Kiprusoff allowed three goals in five consecutive games before yielding a season-worst six Wednesday in a 6-5 overtime loss at Vancouver. He surrendered two goals on three shots in the second period, finished with 18 saves, and declined to talk to the media.
Allowing three goals in a game isn't necessarily indicative of a poor performance, but Kiprusoff currently has a 2.31 goals-against average after posting a NHL-best 2.07 mark in 2005-06. He also has a smaller margin for error because the Flames (17-14-4) are 22nd in the league with 101 goals scored.
Calgary coach Jim Playfair refused to pin any blame on Kiprusoff, who has lost four straight starts for the first time since March 9-20, 2003, while playing for San Jose.
"Hey, Miikka has been a very, very good goaltender for us for a very, very long time," he said. "We scored five goals on the road and we should have found a way to stop more goals as a team and not just Miikka."
Wednesday's loss was the third straight for the Flames, who erased a pair of two-goal deficits and held the lead late in the third period before the Canucks tied it with 3:40 left in regulation.
"Every so often you play one of those games where it's just goals and that's how it was tonight," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. "It doesn't feel good. We battled back from two goals down twice going into the third so there's a lot of positives. But when you're up by a goal with under five minutes left, that's ours to win and we didn't shut the door and they got it in overtime."
A long stretch of home games should provide the Flames with a boost. They had won a franchise-record 10 straight at the Pengrowth Saddledome before that streak ended Tuesday with a 3-1 loss to Vancouver.
Mathieu Garon made 35 saves after a one-month absence, and the Kings (14-20-5) scored five unanswered goals Thursday in a 7-4 victory at Edmonton.
Alexander Frolov had a goal and two assists and Derek Armstrong set up three scores for Los Angeles, which seeks its first three-game win streak since a five-game run last season.
"We have to keep (winning)," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "Our team has to find a way to eke out wins and scrape and claw our way back into the race. The only way to do that is to put a streak together. There are a lot of good teams, especially in the Northwest and you have to be at the top of your game to beat them."
The Kings struggled without Garon, going 4-7-1 in the 12 games their top goaltender missed with a groin injury.
These teams have split two meetings this season in Los Angeles. The Flames have five wins, one loss and one tie in the past seven matchups in Calgary.