Unlikely Hero Crowns Kings  

Niedermayer Wins It in Overtime

January 18th, 2002
Rick Charlton

Saprykin Drury Iginla
Gelinas Conroy Lowry
Niedermayer Yelle Clark
Berube Nichol Sloan
Lydman Regehr
Boughner Gauthier
Montador Buzek

Rob Niedermayer, for one game at least, opened his toolkit to show Flames fans every reason why he was drafted sixth overall in 1993, ahead of luminaries such as Todd Bertuzzi, Jason Arnott and Adam Deadmarsh.

Niedermayer picked up an errant pass in his own end, rocketed the length of the Saddledome ice, shrugged off the valiant disruptive effort of Allison then rifled the overtime game winner over the shoulder of Felix Potvin, the goal at 2:42 icing a 2-1 Flames win over the LA Kings last night in front of 16,675 shocked fans at the Saddledome.

The big Calgary winger has been a perpetual doghouse denizen since his acquisition two summers ago but Darryl Sutter, in conversation with HNIC prior to the game, had identified Stephane Yelle and, yes, Niedermayer as the two players who have impressed him the most in the three weeks since his appointment as Flames head coach.

Then again, that might be an indictment of fellows like Chris Drury and Jarome Iginla.

Niedermayer was a force for much of the night, bringing a physical presence as usual but also adding a bit of dipsy-doodling that hasn't been seen on a regular basis.

Or at all.

"There was a lot of open space (between the LA defencemen), " said Niedermayer on FAN960 after the game. "It was nice to finally put one by Potvin. He played a great game tonight."

The victory was only the sixth at home this season for the Flames but allowed Calgary to crawl back into a tie with Columbus and Nashville for 13th spot in the NHL's Western Conference.

Flames are eight points in arrears of Colorado, currently occupying the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Avs, however, have two games in hand.

Calgary is now 15-22-7-3 on the season.

The Flames hadn't won an overtime game in almost a full turn of the calendar, January 28th of last year in Minnesota, and are now 1-3-7 this year in extra-frame situations this season.

While the win is something the Flames will take with a smile, a powerplay that generated only one shot in its first five opportunities while surrendering a short-handed marker was a serious wart.

Craig Conroy opened scoring only 1:04 into the game, picking up a Dave Lowry rebound and depositing the puck into an open net behind Potvin.

Roman Turek had a generally strong night but the Kings might have salted the game away in the third with two goal posts, the first from Ziggy Palffy and then a brilliant spin-a-rama move from rookie Alexander Frolov.

Calgary finished zero for six on the night while the Kings were zero for three.

Flames outshot the Kings 27-19.

Calgary lost left winger Oleg Saprykin to a knee injury late in the first period.

Flames have collected three of four possible points on this five game home stand which continues with Edmonton coming up on Monday night.

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Penguins Calgary Flames 2
Los Angeles Kings 1

1 Rob Niedermayer - Scores a coast to coast game winner and impressive all night. 

2 Ziggy Palffy - The best player on the ice, gets a shorthanded goal, creating chances throughout the night. 

3) Stephane Yelle - Niedermayer's linemate was blocking shots, killing penalties and hustling throughout the evening.

Only a few minutes left in the game when Allison found Palffy for a one-timer in the slot, but Turek gracefully slid out a pad to deflect the dangerous chance to the corner.

Chris Drury came out of nowhere to splatter Brad Chartrand against the glass halfway through the first period, a hit that might have easily been penalized. Instead Chartrand took a retaliatory penalty but gained some measure of revenge with Palffy scoring shorthanded after the hapless Drury was undressed on the ensuing power play.

The Kings top line of Palffy, Allison and Adam Deadmarsh have played only eight games together this season. . . . . . Kings lost another player, with defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky dropping in the first period with a knee injury. Kings entered the game having lost 290 man games to injury. The Flames 75. . . . . . . . Sutter had a one on one session in practice with Saprykin earlier in the day, telling the Flames winger he wanted to see five or six shots a game from him . . . . . . Mike Ricci, Niklas Sundstrom and Scott Thornton were the identity line of the Sutter coached San Jose Sharks according to Flames assistant coach Rob Cookson, pointing to the trio of Niedermayer, Yelle and Chris Clark as picking up that role in Calgary. . . . . . Flames were 47% in the faceoff circle, Chris Drury's 85% leading the way. Jason Allison was 70% for the Kings . . . . . Toni Lydman, as usual, led the Flames in ice time with 29:26. Mattias Norstrom led the way for the Kings with 28:46 in ice time. . . . . .


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