Flames-Blue Jackets Preview

Entering the second stop on his team’s longest road trip of the

season, the Calgary Flames’ top goaltender is well-rested.

They didn’t miss a beat without him in their last contest.

Miikka Kiprusoff will be back between the pipes Tuesday night

against the Columbus Blue Jackets as the Flames go for a

season-high fourth straight win.

The sport’s most durable workhorse at his position, Kiprusoff

has started an astonishing 471 games – 45 more than any other

goaltender – since the start of 2005-06. His 254 wins in that span

account for more than 92 percent of Calgary’s total.

The Flames (17-15-4) have won only once in seven games this

season that Kiprusoff did not start, but that victory came Friday

night in Vancouver. Making his second career start, rookie Leland

Irving turned aside 29 of 30 shots as Calgary won 3-1 to open a

seven-game, two-week trip that will stretch as far south at

Nashville and as far east as Boston.

“He was very poised,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said of Irving.

“A couple saves he made in the last two-and-a-half, three minutes

were obviously huge. He was very much under control.”

He also gave Kiprusoff the chance to take four full days off

between starts. Now, the veteran will try to lead the Flames to

their first four-game winning streak since Jan. 21-Feb. 3, when

they won six in a row.

That task might seem easy against the league-worst Blue Jackets

(9-22-4), but two of Columbus’ wins this season have come at

Calgary’s expense. Kiprusoff was in net for the most recent

matchup, a 4-3 shootout loss at home Dec. 1, when Rick Nash tied

the game in the final minute of regulation and then scored to win

it in the tiebreaker.

The Blue Jackets captain also scored in his club’s 4-1 home

victory over the Flames on Nov. 21.

Nash put a game-high six shots on net Monday night at Chicago,

but none of them got past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford as

Columbus fell 4-1 despite a 38-22 shots advantage.

James Wisniewski scored in the third period to help the Blue

Jackets avoid the shutout, but took no consolation from just his

second goal of the year.

“We couldn’t take advantage and score any goals,” Wisniewski

said. “But it’s been a broken record this year.”

It was the fifth straight loss for Columbus, which has allowed

16 goals in its last three games – three of them in Monday’s second

period alone.

“We’re back to doing some of the things we did early in the

year,” coach Scott Arniel said. “We were doing a lot of good

things through a long period of time and now (our defensive

coverage) certainly wasn’t there (Monday) in the second period.

“It’s an area we had improved on and now it’s back to square

one.”

Calgary winger Alex Tanguay has missed the past two games with

an upper-body injury. His status for this contest is uncertain.