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Flames seek to shore up defense against Stars

PA Stats Inc
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The Hockey News
News

Flames seek to shore up defense against Stars

PA Stats Inc
By:

By Jon Palmieri
Stats Editor

Dallas (33-29-8) at Calgary (40-23-6), 9:00 p.m. EDT

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Olli Jokinen has provided more offense
than expected since joining the Flames. Team defense, however,
has been a big disappointment lately and Calgary's lead in the
Northwest Division has shrunk as a result.

The struggling Flames hope to rebound from one of their worst
performances of the season Wednesday night when they open a
three-game homestand against the Dallas Stars.

In need of an offensive boost for the stretch run, the Flames
(40-23-6) acquired Jokinen from Phoenix at the trade deadline
for forwards Matthew Lombardi and Brandon Prust and a
first-round draft pick.

The deal couldn't be working out any better for Jokinen, who has
eight goals and 10 points in his first six games with Calgary.

Jokinen was one of the few bright spots for the Flames in an 8-6
loss at Toronto on Saturday, as he collected three goals and two
assists.

"It's a good hockey team and I'm playing with good players like
Jarome (Iginla)," Jokinen told the Flames' official Web site. "I
get a lot of chances and I feel a little bit lucky, the puck's
been following me."

Iginla and Dion Phaneuf each had a goal and set up two others
for Calgary, which lost four of the final five contests on its
seven-game trip. That slide - coupled with Vancouver's strong
play - has pulled the Canucks within three points of the Flames
in the Northwest.

One area where the Flames haven't had much concern for years is
in net, where Miikka Kiprusoff has established himself as one of
the league's best.

Kiprusoff, though, has struggled lately, going 3-2-0 with a 4.57
goals-against average in seven starts since March 1. He allowed
six goals on 22 shots Saturday before he was replaced by Curtis
McElhinney early in the third period.

Coach Mike Keenan took the blame for starting Kiprusoff two
nights after he faced 45 shots in a shootout win at Detroit.

"He'd like to have a better game I'm sure, but I think it was
probably my fault for even playing him tonight because of what
he had to go through and the work he had last game," Keenan
said. "I take full credit for probably starting the wrong
goaltender."

Kiprusoff figures to be back in net Wednesday despite losing his
last four starts (0-3-1) against Dallas, including a pair of 3-1
defeats to the Stars this season.

Dallas was denied its third straight win with a 4-2 loss to
Vancouver on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game trip.

Stephane Robidas and Steve Ott scored for the Stars, who dropped
into a ninth-place tie with Minnesota in the Western Conference.

"It s tough," Ott said. "We can't afford right now to come away
empty-handed in the points department."

Right wing Jere Lehtinen returned to Dallas' lineup Tuesday
after he missed six games due to an upper-body injury, but
forwards Brad Richards (broken wrist), Fabian Brunnstrom (upper
body), Toby Peterson (foot) and Mark Parrish (head) remained
sidelined.

Marty Turco could be back in net after making 21 saves in
Tuesday's loss. He has stopped 60 of 62 shots in Dallas' two
wins over the Flames this season, and is 14-6-1 with two ties
and a 1.77 GAA in 24 career starts versus Calgary.

The Stars are 6-1-1 in their last eight games against the
Flames, including three straight wins in Calgary.

Dallas' Mike Ribeiro has four goals and seven assists during an
eight-game point streak.

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Flames seek to shore up defense against Stars