Flames-Blues Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 24, 2011
The St. Louis Blues continue to play well under new coach Ken Hitchcock, particularly when Brian Elliott is in net, but they could run into some trouble if the Calgary Flames choose to start Miikka Kiprusoff. Kiprusoff likely will have a chance to continues his domination of the Blues when the teams meet Friday night at Scottrade Center. St. Louis improved to 5-1-2 under Hitchcock with a 3-2 overtime win at Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The Blues (11-8-2) led 1-0 entering the third period, gave up two goals, but emerged with the win after Alex Pietrangelo scored with less than a minute remaining in the extra period. Just as impressive was that St. Louis, which avoid a third straight loss, held Sidney Crosby scoreless after he had a four-point season debut the game before. "The first two periods were the best periods that we played all year," Hitchcock said. "To play this well and this hard, it would have been disappointing to not get two points." Strong goaltending has been key for the Blues, who are fourth in the NHL, giving up 2.19 goals per game, and Elliott continues to give Hitchcock every reason to go with him over Jaroslav Halak. Elliott has won his last four starts to improve to 8-1-0 with a league-best 1.48 goals-against average. Elliott had 31 saves in the win against the Penguins and has a 1.23 GAA in four starts this month, although he's started consecutive games only once in November. While Hitchcock could go with the hot goaltender Friday, it was Halak, who has lost his last two starts, that was in net for a 5-2 win over Calgary on Oct. 10. Elliott gave up two goals on 17 shots in a 3-1 defeat to the Flames on Oct. 28 - his third straight loss to them. Whomever starts could have a tough matchup if Calgary (8-11-1) turns to Kiprusoff, who is 19-4-2 with 1.90 GAA - including five straight wins - against the Blues. Kiprusoff has run into some trouble recently, going 2-4-0 with a 3.04 GAA in his last six starts overall. He struggled in a 5-3 loss at Detroit on Wednesday, giving up three third-period goals for the team's second straight defeat. Two of those goals came while the Flames were short-handed, an area that continues to be a problem. Calgary has allowed five goals on 11 short-handed situations the last three games and ranks 22nd in the NHL with a 79.2 percentage on the penalty kill. "You can't give these guys a two-man power-play with 8 minutes to go," captain Jarome Iginla said. "Up to then it had been a good road game for us." Iginla had his sixth goal of the season while Brendan Morrison and Olli Jokinen also scored. Calgary has lost three of its last four road games, getting outscored 16-9. The Flames close this four-game trip Sunday against Minnesota. Due in large part to Kiprusoff, Calgary has won five of six and is 12-4-1 in its last 17 against St. Louis, winning six of eight on the road.
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