Skid Stops With OT Winner

Rick Charlton

January 28th, 2002

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 shining moment.

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 period.

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, coming 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.




Calgary Flames 3
Minnesota Wild 2

Box Score


Wright Savard Iginla
Botterill Conroy Hentunen
Lowry Nichol Petrovicky
Allison Shantz Berube
Morris Regehr
Gauthier Boughner
Lydman Kravchuk


1) Roman Turek - this game would have been over long before the third period as Turek held the fort in a rough second period. 

2) Andrew Burnette - a goal and an assist and dangerous all night. 

3) Jarome Iginla - Not a classic night for Iginla but came through when it mattered in overtime.


Jason Botterill had his arms in the air after deflecting an Iginla shot towards an open net, but Minnesota forward 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.


Resident monster Matt Johnson - 6'5" in height - flattened an unwary Ronald Petrovicky midway through the first, prompting 5' 8" Scott Nichol to borrow a stool and swat Johnson across the face. Both were penalized.


Minnesota and Detroit have had great success this year with an innovative inverted power play, keeping the action down low and resorting to the point men only as a last resort. In one memorable sequence early in the second period, the Wild power play forced Turek to make four terrific and 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 69th consecutive sellout for 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 surprising statistic - Minnesota had 22 giveaways to 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 Gauthier, a workhorse all night. Craig Conroy logged 23:24. Kuba played 26:03 for Minnesota. . . . . . Flames outhit Minnesota 32-21 with Bob Boughner quietly leading the way with five for Calgary and Marshall and Antii Aaksonnen putting up three each for the Wild.



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