Calgary Flames 1 Vancouver Canucks 1

Fit to be Tied

Rick Charlton

September 26, 2001

A lot of things will have to go right for the Flames this season to avoid a sixth straight season out of the playoffs and Rob Niedermayer, a key off-season acquisition, will have be one of those critical components.

After a slow start to camp, however, Niedermayer is serving notice that he may well be up to the task.

Niedermayer scored the tying goal in the second period, and his second marker in as many games, then came close to putting the game on ice with a power play chance in the final minute of the third in leading the Flames to a 1-1 road draw with the Vancouver Canucks.

Niedermayer got a surprising pat on the butt on the TEAM 960 pre-game show when Canucks stalwart Ed Jovanovski dropped a few jaws with his assertion his ex-teammate, would pick up 25 to 30 goals this season for Calgary.

It goes without saying that Flames GM Craig Button would be doing cartwheels at centre ice at the Saddledome if Niedermayer delivered that type of performance.

There were a few worried brows on the Flames bench when Niedermayer disappeared into the Flames dressing room after a third period fight with Jarkko Ruutu. But he reappeared for the final five minutes and almost nailed the winner in the final minute with Matt Cooke in the penalty box.

Markus Naslund started scoring at 13:39 of a largely uneventful first when he stuffed a cross-ice pass from Andrew Cassels through Flames starter Roman Turek's legs.

Vancouver goaltender Dan Cloutier faced eight shots in the first while Turek handled seven.

Niedermayer tied the game at 12:54 of the second after Jarome Iginla showed great patience along the boards, allowing his centre to get into position in front of the net. Calgary had five shots in the second, Vancouver only four.

Diminutive Scott Nichol, attempting to secure a spot on the opening night roster, nailed the goalpost on a Rico Fata rebound with just five minutes left in the third.

Turek made an excellent save in overtime on Markus Naslund after the Vancouver captain scooted around Robyn Regher for a point-blank opportunity.

Turek faced 18 shots in the game while Cloutier took on 20.

Both teams were scoreless in five power play chances.

OUR STARS

1. Niedermayer - with a strong two-way game.

2. Cloutier if the Canucks are going anywhere this year Cloutier is the guy who has to nail it down as he did with an excellent performance against Calgary.

3. Iginla Its becoming apparent that anyone playing with him is now automatically better, a sign of an emerging leader.

 


HIT OF THE GAME

Not much happened in the first but Todd Bertuzzi put Derek Morris on his butt with a teeth-rattling hit in mid-period.


NOTES

Button was on a Vancouver pre-game radio broadcast and said the Flames had moved beyond talking about what they needed to do and now had to "show we belong," an assertion we've been making all summer. Talk is now very cheap as far as the Flames are concerned. ... "This is a much faster Calgary team," acknowledged CKNW commentator John Shorthouse late in the first period. ... Mike Vernon acknowledged his second turn in Calgary has been rough and predicted Button will be making even more changes to the Calgary lineup before hes done. ... Flames assistant coach Jamie Hislop, ensuring he was offering only his own opinion, predicted junior age sensation Chuck Kobasew would start the season in Kelowna.