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STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Goaltending controversy?

Don't even think about it.

Calgary Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff was given a little extra time off when backup Philippe Sauve was handed a surprise start for a key Northwest Division battle Monday night in Colorado.

Many were caught off guard by Flames GM/ head coach Darryl Sutter's late decision to put the former Avalanche 'tender between the pipes against his old team.

Kiprusoff was among them.

"I heard before the game," said Kiprusoff yesterday, admitting he was shocked.

"But that's how it is. It's always the coach's call who is playing."

After a relatively shaky performance at the Saddledome in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night, Kiprusoff would have liked the opportunity to redeem himself sooner than later.

He might get the chance tonight when his former club, the San Jose Sharks, visit the saddledome (7 p.m., no TV, The Fan 960).

"I like to play a lot," said Kiprusoff, whose

20 starts this season are the most by any goaltender. "If coach decides I'm not playing, I try to use that time to be better and more fresh the next game. If I have a night off like that,

I try to do everything to rest and have a good skate and be ready (tonight)."

Sauve performed well, making 36 stops -- including three against snipers Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay in the shootout -- to lead the Flames to Monday's 3-2 win over the Avs.

He also entered the Chicago game in the third period after Kiprusoff surrendered four goals to the Blackhawks over 40 minutes, giving Sauve his longest stretch of consecutive minutes this season.

Flames goaltending coach David Marcoux admitted Kiprusoff wasn't at his best Friday but stated worry would be premature.

"I would have liked to have seen him on the (Matthew) Barnaby breakaway challenge him a little more. He got caught maybe flat-footed because of the situation -- just a turnover in our zone basically," said Marcoux. "He was not stellar but he was not bad."

That sub-par outing may still be weighing heavily on the minds of some fans but Marcoux is confident Kiprusoff will shine again.

"We expect him to bounce back. He will bounce back. Things didn't go his way in the Chicago game but that doesn't mean he was extremely bad. It was basically a change of goaltenders to shake up the hockey club. There's nothing to read out of it," said Marcoux.

"It was a good opportunity (to give Kiprusoff more rest). Phil Sauve had the third period (against Chicago) and that's something that he could build on to move into the Colorado game."

Should Kiprusoff get a crack at the Sharks tonight, who beat Calgary in a shootout at HP Pavilion late last month, the cool and collected 'tender won't be distracted by vengeance.

"No. It's a new game," said Kiprusoff. "We have to be ready to play the whole 60 minutes -- or 65, you never know."


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