Stops With OT Winner
Call them an out of control train, picking up
speed while careening towards a cliff with no promises they'll hug the
tracks past the next corner.
And that's the optimistic point of view.
But the Flames managed to clear one more curve,
averting certain doom for the moment at least with a somewhat ugly but
also vaguely familiar script in downing the Wild 3-2 in overtime last
night in Minneapolis.
Jarome Iginla scored his first power play goal
since Dec. 29 while Calgary received a goal and three assists from their
defence and 31 saves from Roman Turek in a game story that reads awfully
familiar to those posted in October and early November.
The goal, his 31st on the year, tying a career high set last year, managed to draw Iginla back into a tie atop the NHL scoring race with Boston's Joe Thornton. Both players have 55 points on the year. But Markus Naslund would net a hat trick for Vancouver later in the night and now sits two points ahead of both Thornton and Iginla atop the scoring board.
In the heady days of their 13-2-2-2 start,
Calgary's defence was front and center in producing offence but key
injuries to Derek Morris and Denis Gauther and the appalling scoring
funk of Flames forwards had run that well seemingly dry. Until last
night when Gauthier notched his fourth of the season, unexpectedly
leading all Calgary defencemen in that category, and three other assists
put Calgary defencemen back into the picture for at least one more
This wasn't exactly an epic battle, featuring a
Flames team which had lost seven of eight versus a Minnesota squad that
had lost eight of its last nine.
After running up an early 9-1 edge in shots the
Flames gradually surrendered control of the game to Minnesota and only
the brilliance of Turek kept this one close through two periods,
Minnesota leading by only a goal.
But Gauthier managed to punt a seeing eye shot
off Jason Marshall and past Minnesota starter Manny Fernandez at 9:22 of
the third to tie the game at 2-2. It was only Calgary's fourth shot in
the previous 30 minutes.
Lubomir Sekeras was then penalized for tripping
at 18:56 of the third, setting up a four on three in overtime. Igor
Kravchuk pounded a point shot and Iginla, waiting patiently in front of
the net, deflected the puck past Fernandez 46 seconds into the extra
It was Calgary's first power play goal in its
last 20 opportunities.
Calgary also pulled back to .500 with only their
eighth win in the last 33 games, giving them a mark of 21-21-8-2 on the
season. The 52 points put Calgary three points behind Phoenix, Vancouver
and five behind Los Angeles in the battle for the eighth and final
playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Flames are 2-2-8 in overtime this season. The
loss was the first for Minnesota in 16 games this year when they have
led after two periods.
Craig Conroy opened scoring only 3:23 into the game, ending a Flames club record of 171:01 of shutout hockey,
from behind the Minnesota net and depositing a backhand high over the
shoulder of Wild starter Manny Fernandez.
But Calgary's penalty killing, ranked 22nd in
the NHL, let the Flames down once again. With Jamie Wright in the
penalty box, Andrew Brunette set up office behind the Calgary net and
passed to a charging Sergei Zholtok in the slot for an easy Minnesota
goal at 10:09.
Brunette put the Wild ahead at 17:35 when former
Calgary property Filip Kuba danced around an attempted shot block from a
sliding Flame and ripped a shot towards Turek that ended up deflecting
onto the stick of a wide open Brunette.
Favourite whipping boy Marc Savard, now
centering the top line with Jarome Iginla, continued to struggle. He
logged the seventh consecutive game in which he's been a minus player, a
stretch where he has logged points in only one game. Savard is now minus
22 on the year.
Flames were one for six on the power play while
Minnesota was one for five.
Minnesota outshot the Flames 33-27 on the night.
Roman Turek -
this game would have
been over long
before the third
period as Turek held
the fort in a rough
Andrew Burnette -
a goal and an assist
and dangerous all
Jarome Iginla -
Not a classic night
for Iginla but came
through when it
OF THE GAME
Botterill had his
arms in the air
after deflecting an
Iginla shot towards
an open net, but
Wes Walz had the
puck rocket off the
shaft of his stick
to keep Minnesota
ahead 2-1 early in
the second period.
Amazingly, it didn't
even qualify as a
shot on goal.
OF THE GAME
Nichol to borrow
a stool and swat
the face. Both
and Detroit have had
great success this
year with an
power play, keeping
the action down low
and resorting to the
point men only as a
last resort. In one
early in the second
period, the Wild
power play forced
Turek to make four
consecutive saves. .
. . . . The original
Hanson brothers from
the movie Slapshot
were attending the
game . . . . . .
Calgary is now
14-4-5 when they
score a power play
goal but have only
seven wins if they
don't. And they
usually don't . . .
. . . It was the
Minnesota, a crowd
of 18,568. . . . . .
. . . How desperate
was Flames coach
Greg Gilbert to
generate offence? He
sent out a line of
Conroy, Iginla and
Savard late in the
third. And, if you
think about it,
that's about all he
has for that kind of
thing. . . . . .
Dean McAmmond missed
his second game with
injury. . . . . .
Petr Buzek was again
a healthy scratch .
. . . . . A
- Minnesota had 22
Calgary's nine in
this game, led by
none other than
Fernandez with four.
. . . . . . Flames
were led by 23:33 in
ice time from Denis
workhorse all night.
Craig Conroy logged
23:24. Kuba played
26:03 for Minnesota.
. . . . . Flames
32-21 with Bob
leading the way with
five for Calgary and
Marshall and Antii
Aaksonnen putting up
three each for the