Flames & Kings Solve Little

Two Blown Two Goal Leads Cost Flames

February 3rd, 2004

Hats flying from the stands to honour the home town hero.

Plenty of fights.

Lots of goals.

Another lost opportunity.

Calgary Flames twice blew two goals leads in a 4-4 tie with the LA Kings, wasting a three goal charge by captain Jarome Iginla and surrendering yet another valuable point to a conference rival on home ice.

For the Flames the tie can only be described as disappointing, up 2-0 and 4-2 at various points only to effectively hand the Kings a point with soft defensive zone errors that created Grade A chances for the visitors to draw even.

Calgary has gained only three points of a possible six so far on a five game homestand which assistant coach Jim Playfair had earlier described as the most important of the season.

If anyone ever needed a game that spelled out that you don't need talent to score goals, only the lack of it, then this would be it.

Both teams were guilty throughout the evening of disastrous giveaways and questionable goaltending, resulting in a fan friendly tilt that saw pucks whipping into the twine with astonishing regularity through the first two wild periods, the only thing missing being the swirling ghosts of Lanny McDonald and Marcel Dionne.

At that juncture both horrified coaches, Andy Murray for the Kings and Darryl Sutter of the Flames, seemed to gain control of their charges and the game settled into a morose defensive funk for the remainder of regulation time.

With the tie, the Kings and Flames joined hands and marched upward in the standings into a sixth place tie with Nashville in the NHL's tough Western Conference.

The only good thing arising out of this contest for Calgary might have been gaining a point on idle St. Louis, the plummeting ninth place Blues now two points in arrears of the Kings, Flames and Nashville.

For all the action on the ice, the more interesting underlying story might have been the second straight start of Jamie McLennan in the Calgary net, Sutter essentially writing off $4.5 million starter Roman Turek in pre-game comments.

"Turek obviously has an issue in this building and the fans obviously have an issue with him," analyzed a deadpan Sutter of the shamed Turek on the FAN960 pre-game show.

Sutter appeared to confirm that Turek's shaky performances of late and the resulting derision heaped on him by the local Gallery Legions has had a trickle down effect on the performance of the team in front of him. In turn the Calgary coach indicated Turek might be starting games on the road but the probability of him making an appearance at the Saddledome anytime soon is virtually non-existent.

In short, as soon as Miikka Kiprusoff returns in the next week, he'll be the number one goaltender in Calgary.

The fan-induced banishment to the bench of Turek meant the clearly-still-gimpy McLennan has been forced into yeoman service in the Calgary net, not helped in the first period when a Calgary defender fell on his injured shoulder, the coach earlier conceding a broken collarbone was still in the recovery phase.

McLennan skated to the bench. Then turned around and came back.

Gutsy, the fans happy . . . .but he's not sharp and it's showing.

Yet the lousiest goal of the night was conceded by the starting goaltender at the other end of the ice, Roman Cechmanek allowing Iginla's lazy dump-in from the Kings blueline to deflect off his stick and into the yawning net for a 2-0 early Calgary lead.

When Dean McAmmond gave the Flames a 3-2 edge on a one-timer that should have been stopped, Murray had seen enough, yanking Cechmanek in favour of Cristobal Huet, the latter almost immediately stripped of his shorts on a wonderful Iginla breakaway deke that gave the Flames a 4-2 edge.

But Alexander Frolov broke through the Calgary defence and let a slow roller move towards McLennan as he was being yanked down, the Flames netminder allowing a goal he should have had. Minutes later, Rhett Warrener and Toni Lydman both moved on Derek Armstrong, allowing the King to foward a pass to Luc Robitaille for an easy goal to bring LA even yet again.

Flames almost won the game in overtime except for a snazzy glove save by Huet on Conroy as well as a slick pad save on Iginla with seconds to go.

Eric Belanger and Esa Pirnes also scored for the Kings.

Calgary directed 35 shots at Huet while the Kings generated 29 against McLennan.

LA failed to score on their only power play while the Flames scored once on four opportunities.

Next up is St. Louis on Friday night in, dare we say it, the most important game of the year.






1) Jarome Iginla - Lordy, he's on one of his streaks again, smokin' hot in this game with a hat trick but also on the ice for two against.

2) Alexander Frolov - His emergence as a front-line NHL player and star in the making is one of the reasons the unlikely Kings are keeping their heads above water.

3) Cristobal Huet - Backup goaltender comes in and immediately surrenders a breakaway goal to Iginla . . . . then settles down to save a point for the Kings on 22 saves.

What saves? Seriously, Huet with a spectacular glove save on Craig Conroy's turnaround opportunity early in overtime saved the game for the Kings. His pad save with only seconds to go in overtime wasn't bad either.

Buzzsaw Chuck Kobasew was reaching for the puck when he was smoked from behind by Brad Norton eight minutes into the second period. A few shifts later Krzysztof Oliwa one-punched Norton to the ice in penance.

More Sutter: " It starts with your goaltenders. I don't think our goaltenders have given us an opportunity to cover up mistakes." . . . . . Joseph Corvo with 31:24 and Jaroslav Modry with 30:36 in ice time point to the Kings serious injury issues. Toni Lydman led the Flames with 24:49 in ice time. . . . . .Flames were 49% in the faceoff circle led by Conroy's 53%. Derek Armstrong was 68% for the Kings.

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