Ville Not Silly in Big Flames Win 

Newcomers and Pugilist Lead Way 

March 11th, 2004

After scoring Calgary's only goal in a 1-1 draw with the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, Ville Nieminen, he of only seven games in Calgary togs, almost berated himself and took no credit for hitting the scoresheet.

Good luck ducking the praise in this one Mr. Nieminen.

The hard charging Fin took a loose puck on the corner boards, beat his man to the net and roofed the game winner giving the Flames a 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

"It feels good every time you score, especially these games. I'm one excited hockey player", Nieminen told Sportsnet after the game.

"As soon as I got into that locker room I felt very comfortable, you have a problem if you don't fit in with that room."

Well the "room" is luck to have Nieminen and the other recent additions Chris Simon and Marcus Naslund as the Flames have been befuddled by recent injuries, and a lack of depth scoring.

Chris Simon was back to being a physical force and Naslund added two additional goals to Nieminen's counter. 

"That's a massive two points. You saw Nemo, we got him for those big goals, he has that Shean Donovan kind of speed", added Andrew Ference

The Flames opened the scoring on a first period powerplay, the offence, ironically provided by a make shift unit put together due to the injuries to three of Calgary's better offensive forwards.

One part doghouse and two parts newcomer, that is one Chuck Kobasew and recent acquirees Ville Nieminen and Marcus Nilson combined on the goal when Kobasew dug the puck out to Nieminen in front of the net. Nieminen failed to convert the chance but got it back to the point where Toni Lydman's lock wrister was tipped by Nilson to make it 1-0.

From there the Senators came on, pressing the Flames on and off an Ottawa powerplay, but were foiled by some key saves by Miikka Kiprusoff and a the clang of an iron post.

The Flames took some energy from the penalty kill, however, and took the puck to the Senators the rest of the period, being foiled on numerous occasions by Patrick Lalime or poor markmenship.

Calgary out shot their visitors by a count of 13-9 through one period.

The second stanza didn't get off on the right foot for the Flames as Jarome Iginla was tagged by the officials for pulling down his nemesis, Zdeno Chara, sending the Sens to the powerplay.

A harmless point shot by Daniel Alfredsson resulted in a big rebound that would up on Marion Hossa's stick, and the talented Fin didn't waste his opportunity scoring his 31st of the season.

The Flames then blew three straight man advantage opportunities due to a listless powerplay that just couldn't get set up. The group of five just couldn't get comfortable with the Sens attack oriented kill style generating very little.

Queue the fourth line.

A few minutes after the penalty parade Kzys Oliwa jumped on a loose puck and fed rookie center Matthew Lombardi, Lombardi took the line attempted a pass that was deflected straight to Oliwa who canned his second goal in three games, and third on the season.

Calgary took the lead to the third period, feeling anything but comfortable against a quick striking Senator club. Hockey is stated to be a game of inches (well a game of barbarians if you read papers south of the border, but that's another story), but the tape measure shortens up a whole bunch against the Sens as any mistake is sure to end up in your own twine.

And a mistake it was, with the author one Denis Gauthier making a bad decision on a pinch and giving the Senators a two on oh no breakaway, with Martin Havlat doing the honours and tying the score.

But the Flames settled down and played a solid third period, getting most of the chances before Nieminen was sprung free for the game winner.

"I heard Donovan yelling 'Nemo Nemo', but I thought ... no .. no ... it's my turn", laughed Nieminen on his burst of speed.

The game has to be a huge shot in the arm to a Flame club likely dealing with some self doubt because of recent injuries. The club had much more jump when compared to the Edmonton contest, were never really in trouble and were able to match the Senators speed.

The brief two game homestand ends with three of four points gained and the club on a three game unbeaten streak as they take to the road for a game in Nashville on Saturday.

Games can't get a whole lot bigger than that one ... don't you just love meaningful hockey in mid March?





1) Ville Nieminen - Showed great breakway speed to beat Chris Phillips and then Patrick Lalime for a pretty game winner. 

2) Marcus Nilson - See he is Marcus Naslund. Fine, I jest, but the newcomer did deftly tip in the game's first goal and then add an empty netter for his first two goals in Flame colours. 

3) Zdeno Chara - For the second time in the last four weeks the biggest man held Jarome Iginla off the board.

Senator goalie Patrick Lalime was at his best when he stoned Jarome Iginla not once, but twice in the second period. Iginla in alone got a shot off that was blocked by Lalime, but then stayed with the rebound and was absoloutely robbed by Lalime's pad.

Wade Redden caught Shean Donovan looking at a bouncing puck, stepping up and hammering the Flame speedster into the boards with a thunderous first period hit.

Aren't those trade deadline acquisitions looking smart now? With three natural left wings now out of the lineup, one - Steve Reinprecht known before the wire, and two Martin Gelinas and Dean McAmmond somewhat unexpectedly, the arrival of Chris Simon, and Marcus Nilson couldn't be more huge. Nilson, like McAmmond before him, has had to step in and cover center. ... Have to wonder how many goals Oliwa would score in a season if he had the same number of opportunities as other players on the club. The man can bury them in front of the net. "It's a line effort, those guys played great. I just go to the net hard. It's a great feeling" ... Speaking of Oliwa, and Nilson, funny to see a Pole, a Swede and a Fin on the scoresheet when all three were acquired by a man that supposedly heavily favours Western Canadians. ... Man does that Daniel Alfredson look odd with that hair hanging out of his helmet. Kind of like that Carrot Top guy that does those goofy long distance commercials. ... Oleg Saprykin returned to the lineup tonight and was held pointless despite many chances and some gritty play down low. ... With the injuries only Steve Montador was a healthy scratch. ... Calgary outshot the Sens by a convincing 34-22 mark on the night, including 14-7 in the third period. ... The Flames were 1 for 5 on the powerplay, Ottawa 1 for 3. ... The Flames took a whopping 65% of the faceoffs on the night with the new guy, Marcus Nilson taking 69% of his draws in a fill in capacity. Yelle was good for 66% on the night, Conroy 63%. ... Speaking of Conroy, the big center struggled with the puck again tonight for the second straight game after starring in Colorado. ... The Flames now have sole position of 6th spot in the West, three points back of the Stars and two points up on both the Kings and Predators. They lead the ninth place Blues by three points. ... 

Simon Conroy Iginla 
Neiminen Nilson Donovan 
Saprykin Yelle Clark 
Oliwa Lombardi Kobasew

Gauthier Warrener 
Ference Lydman 
Regehr Leopold


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