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Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin has turned in two strong performances after missing nearly a month with a broken finger. The Blackhawks' netminder looks to continue the success against the Calgary Flames, a team he's enjoyed facing in the past.
Khabibulin will likely get the chance to continue his dominance over the Flames when the teams meet Wednesday at Pengrowth Saddledome.
The veteran goalie is 15-2 with two ties and a 2.02 goals-against average in 20 career games against the Flames (9-8-2), which is tied for his most wins versus any opponent. Khabibulin struggled to a 17-26-6 record with a 3.35 GAA last season, but still played well against Calgary, making 30 saves in a 5-2 win on Nov. 18, 2005.
He has also played well in two starts since missing nine games with a broken index finger on the hand where he wears his blocking pad. Khabibulin stopped 42 shots in a 4-3 shootout win over Anaheim on Friday, then followed that with a 37-save effort in Sunday's 2-1 loss to Vancouver.
He is 5-3 with a 3.12 GAA overall this season.
"Nik was very, very good for us," Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said. "We just didn't support him enough with enough offense."
Tuomo Ruutu, who was sidelined the first 10 games of 2006-07 with a sprained knee, scored in his second straight game Sunday, but that was all the offense Chicago (7-10-2) could muster. The Blackhawks have been held to two or fewer goals in nine of their last 11 games and been outshot 84-47 over the last two.
Chicago is 3-1-1 following an eight-game losing streak and is playing the fourth in a five-game road trip. Although the Blackhawks are backstopped by a strong goaltender in Khabibulin, they'll face another hot netminder in Miikka Kiprusoff.
Kiprusoff held his seventh straight opponent to two or fewer goals Tuesday, but the Flames lost 2-1 to the Edmonton Oilers, snapping a six-game winning streak.
The Calgary goalie, who has a 1.15 GAA over the last seven games, is 9-8-1 with a 2.18 GAA this season and has started all but one game. He has also been strong against the Blackhawks, going 4-2 with a tie and a 2.38 GAA in seven career starts.
Kristian Huselius scored midway through the first period Tuesday for the Flames, who had scored three or more goals in their previous seven games.
"We played pretty good for the first 10 minutes and got the lead like we wanted, but then we couldn't finish it off," said Huselius, who has seven goals and three assists on the season. "We lost our energy a little bit, especially in the third."
Jarome Iginla had a seven-game points streak snapped, during which he had three goals and seven assists. He leads the Flames with nine goals and 21 points, but recorded just one goal in four meetings with the Blackhawks last season.
The Flames were an impressive 30-7-4 at home in 2005-06 and go for their fifth straight win there this season on Wednesday. These teams split four meetings last season.