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Flames start key six-game trip tonight in Columbus

Dec 27, 2011, 12:52 PM EDT

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It’s not quite make-or-break, but Calgary’s upcoming six-game road trip will be a stern test.

The Flames are being forced out of town while the World Junior Hockey Championships are in Alberta. Technically they’re on the road for seven straight games, having won Friday in Vancouver; however, that was before Christmas. Safe to assume they were allowed home to open presents before tonight’s game in Columbus.

Calgary’s won three straight and finds itself right back in the packed Western Conference playoff race, two points shy of eighth-place Nashville.

The Flames start their trip with two winnable games in Columbus and on Long Island, after which they visit Ottawa, Nashville, Washington and Boston.

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to start in goal against the Blue Jackets, despite backup Leland Irving being named first star in his team’s 3-1 victory over the Canucks.

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