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Kiprusoff returns against Sharks

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- After missing 13 games with a sprained knee ligament, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff will make his return to the lineup when the Calgary Flames host the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

Calgary coach Bob Hartley confirmed Kiprusoff's start Wednesday.

"I said 'Are you ready?' and he answered back, 'I want to play,'" Hartley said. "Once the medical staff clears you and the player tells the coach that he wants to play, you just open the door."

Kiprusoff's return meant Daniel Taylor, who went 1-1-0 in two games, was sent to Abbotsford of the American Hockey League.

A mainstay in Calgary's net for a decade, Kiprusoff has played 70 or more games in each of the last seven seasons for the Flames. Before getting hurt in the second period against the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 5, the 36-year-old netminder had played every minute for Calgary this season.

Flames captain Jarome Iginla is more than happy to see the franchise's winningest goaltender back in the lineup.

"To have Kipper [Kiprusoff] back, he's one of the best goalies, most consistent, one of the best in the game," Iginla said. "It would be a big boost."

The Flames (8-8-4) used a trio of goalies to stay within striking distance of a playoff spot in the heated Western Conference chase.

"Leland Irving, Danny Taylor, Joey MacDonald, they deserve lots of credit," Hartley said. "I think we did it as a team, but those guys came in, they pitched a couple of big games for us and that was a key."

Irving, Taylor and MacDonald went a combined 6-5-2 for the Flames in Kiprusoff's absence.

"When you lose your number-one goalie, it definitely leaves a hole," Hartley said. "While our game was improving, our goaltenders that we used, they did a fine job for us and that's why we're still in the mix. We're not where we want to be, but right now we have a chance."

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