<
>

Flames start 7-game homestand with win over Ducks

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Miikka Kiprusoff's teammates made his
job a lot easier on Wednesday night.

Kiprusoff made 31 saves and the Calgary Flames scored three
power-play goals to beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 3-1 and move back
into sole possession of first place in the tight Northwest
Division.

"The defense did pretty much a perfect job in front of me,"
Kiprusoff said. "There were no breakaways, and most of the shots
were from a long way out."

Matthew Lombardi, Daymond Langkow and Chris Simon scored for the
Flames, who are two points up on Vancouver, four ahead of Edmonton
and five ahead of Colorado.

Andy McDonald had the lone goal for the Mighty Ducks.

"Tonight we weren't obviously as sharp as we could have been,"
McDonald said. "We've got to put this one behind us and we've got
one more game on the road here against Vancouver. You can't stress
the importance of these games. We need these points for getting
into the playoffs."

Making his seventh straight start and 18th in the last 19 games,
Kiprusoff allowed only a power-play goal by McDonald halfway
through the first period that tied the score 1-all.

Kiprusoff was perfect after that, turning aside 27 shots the
rest of the way to improve to 29-14-7 on the season. He is tied
with Marty Turco of the Dallas Stars for the NHL lead in wins.

"Some of the saves he made were very timely saves and that's
huge for us," Langkow said. "It's nice having the confidence with
him back there."

In late December, Kiprusoff announced he would not represent
Finland at the Olympics because he wants to rest a nagging hip
injury. He said he is looking forward to the time off to try and
get completely healthy.

"For sure this will be a great thing for me," Kiprusoff said.
"I've been waiting and if I can get myself back to 100 percent,
that would be great.

"I like to play, I just need to be smart between the games and
sometimes take it a little bit easy in practice."

Langkow's goal proved to be the winner, making it 2-1 at 2:38 of
the second.

Controlling the play in the Ducks' end, Jarome Iginla slid a
pass across to Langkow near the top of the faceoff circle and he
sent a hard slap shot into the top corner over the outstretched
glove of goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

"A tremendous pass from Jarome," Langkow said. "He saw me
across the ice and put it right on my tape and I had all kinds of
time."

Calgary increased its lead later in the second at 16:38. Simon
stationed himself in front of the Ducks' net and was able to
deflect in a point shot from Andrew Ference as the Flames converted
their third straight man-advantage chance.

"They were practicing tip-ins this morning and Simon is always
there front and center when we are practicing screening the goalie
and tipping the puck and it paid off for him tonight," Flames
assistant coach Rich Preston said.

The Ducks entered the game with the NHL's ninth-best
penalty-killing unit.

Calgary finished 3-for-5 on the power play.

"I don't think you can really expect to win a hockey game
giving up three power-play goals. In reality, you cant give up
those and that's the difference in the hockey game," Anaheim coach
Randy Carlyle said.

The Flames are 7-1-1 over the past six weeks at the Pengrowth
Saddledome, where Calgary will wrap up play before the Olympic
break by hosting the Blues on Friday night.

Anaheim lost for just the third time in regulation in the past
14 games (7-3-4).

Playing against his former team, Giguere finished with 21 saves
and dropped to 15-8-10.

Calgary and Anaheim exchanged power-play goals in the first
period.

Lombardi gave the Flames the lead at 6:11, striding to the top
of the faceoff circle and neatly putting a wrist shot into the top
corner.

The lead lasted less than 4 minutes before McDonald evened it.
Teemu Selanne's shot caromed off the near goal post and out the
other side of the crease where McDonald put it in the empty net.

Game notes
With a five-game homestand following the Olympic break,
Calgary does not play again on the road until March 12 in Colorado.
... Calgary C Byron Ritchie (knee) is close to returning after
missing 16 games. ... Anaheim is just 1-8-2 against the Northwest
Division. ... Calgary is 14-5-2 against the Northwest Division.
Against the rest of the Western Conference, the Flames are 11-10-4.
... Calgary LW Mike Leclerc is scoreless in three games since
joining the Flames. Including his time with the Coyotes, he has
gone 11 games without a goal.