Flames-Blue Jackets Preview

No NHL goaltender has been called upon more often over the last

seven years than Miikka Kiprusoff, but the Calgary Flames will be

without him for at least Thursday night’s road game against the

Columbus Blue Jackets.

Kiprusoff’s absence could be a boon for the Blue Jackets, who

have struggled to score as much as any team in the league.

The Flames (2-3-2) are last in the Western Conference – one

point behind Columbus (3-6-1) – although they have played the

fewest games in the league and three fewer than the Blue

Jackets.

They’re hopeful Tuesday’s 4-1 victory at Detroit is the

beginning of a turnaround, but they suffered a potentially

difficult loss in the game. Kiprusoff collided with the Red Wings’

Johan Franzen during the second period and exited before the third

with a lower-body injury.

Backup Leland Irving played the final 20 minutes, stopping all

six shots he faced. Calgary signed Danny Taylor, who has never

started an NHL game, from AHL affiliate Abbotsford on

Wednesday.

Kiprusoff’s 517 starts since 2005-06 are the most in the league,

and he’s played in at least 70 games each of the last seven

seasons. He hasn’t missed time with an injury since an 18-game

absence with a sprained left knee ligament in 2004.

The Finnish veteran said in a statement Wednesday that he

believes it is a “short-term injury” after the team announced he is

day-to-day.

“You take for granted how good he is and how consistent he is,”

team captain Jarome Iginla said. “He’s a big part of our team.”

Iginla finally broke through for his first goal Tuesday after

being held without one for the first six games, his longest drought

to start a season since he scored goal No. 1 in his 12th contest in

1999-00.

Calgary’s four goals tied a season high despite a season-low 23

shots.

“Always the first of the year, it’s nice to get over,” said

Iginla, the franchise’s all-time leader with 517 goals. “Every

single year, you want to get that first one off your back.”

The Blue Jackets have been anemic, scoring two goals or fewer in

seven of their last eight games. Their 7.2 shooting percentage and

1.90 goals per game both rank near the very bottom of the

league.

Columbus’ offense faltered again in a 4-2 home loss to Los

Angeles on Tuesday. The Blue Jackets failed to capitalize on three

power plays, including a four-minute double minor early in the

third period on which they recorded one shot while trailing by one

goal.

“I’ve talked about how your power play can create positive

energy,” coach Todd Richards said. “That four minutes were really

just draining the clock. We spent more time working back to our

zone than we did in the offensive zone. Our execution wasn’t

good.”

Brandon Dubinsky should be in the lineup after avoiding a

suspension for a hit on Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi that drew a

boarding major. Dubinsky was fined $10,000, the maximum allowed

under the new NHL collective bargaining agreement.

The forward ranks second on the Blue Jackets with four assists,

but is still looking for his first goal since coming over from the

New York Rangers in the Rick Nash trade.

These teams are each 12-8-4 in their last 24 meetings, with

neither winning more than two in a row over that span. The final

three matchups last season went to shootouts.