Nets First Flame Win
McLennan, Chuck Kobasew Backstop Flames
November 4th, 2002
|Net Noodle: Jamie McLennan
picks up his first victory as a Flame.
A stinging first period slapshot robbed
Calgary of its captain Craig Conroy, leaving the impression he might be
the straw that stirs the drink as the Flames floundered through a
napping second period in his absence.
But Calgary managed to find its feet
again in the third period, Chris Drury, Stephane Yelle and Mattias
Johansson doing yeoman replacement work at centre with the Flames
gradually regaining control before putting down the Islanders 4-2 last
night in New York in front of 12,316 disappointed fans.
It was Drury eventually potting the
game winner at 1:36 of the third period, batting a Peter Buzek rebound
past lumbering Islander goalie Garth Snow and effectively sucking the
life out of an Islander team which had already lost four in a row.
"When he (Conroy) was down we knew
right away the guys would have to step it up," said Chuck Kobasew
on Fan960 after the game of the Conroy injury.
Conroy was being evaluated overnight
but Peter Hanlon, Calgary's PR Director, had told CTV Sportnet the ankle
hadn't been broken and the injury wasn't serious.
Kobasew, with his third of the season,
salted the game away with a highlight reel goal at 13:35, set up by
strong backchecking by Rob Niedermayer, the former pouncing on a Roman
Hamrlik giveaway like a junkyard dog on a steak, rocketing in alone on
Snow and putting a backhand behind the hapless netminder.
The Kobsew goal, in particular, should
bring heart to long-suffering Flames fans, the quickness, anticipation
and hands on display all pointing to a young star in the making. His
linemate Niedermayer was also a force on the night, hitting everything
in sight and hounding the Islanders relentlessly on the forecheck.
The victory vaulted Calgary over .500
for the first time this year, the Flames now 4-3-3-2, good for 13 points
and seventh place in the Western Conference before Vancouver took the
ice in a late game.
It was the ninth time in its last ten
games the Flames have managed to generate a point or better.
The worst road power play in the NHL
opened scoring when Conroy, attempting a pass to a wide open Kobasew,
instead banked the puck off Islander defenceman Adrian Aucoin at 9:48 of
the first period.
Flames jumped into a 2-0 lead when
Johansson's wrap-around attempt went through Garth Snow at 2:37 of the
From there, however, the Islanders took
over for the rest of the middle frame, relentlessly out muscling Calgary
players for loose pucks while the Flames in general looked to be a step
slower than their opponents.
Roman Hamrlik brought New York within
one goal when he snuck in from the point to take a centering pass from
Aucoin, blasting the puck past McLennan at 4:56.
Islanders looked to have tied it midway
through the period when Aucoin put a Brad Isbister pass over McLennan
but a video review ruled Aucoin had directed the puck in with his skate.
Islanders finally brought themselves
even with Calgary at 16:19 when Alexei Yashin flashed a shot into the
net that McLennan is still looking for, screened all the way.
McLennan turned in a workmanlike effort
for the Flames, stopping 26 of 28 shots in the absence of the injured
Although we might wax poetic about
Kobasew and Drury, the key to this game may have been the fact McLennan
stopped all the shots he was supposed to, alleviating any trepidation he
might have been unable to handle the NHL after spending last year in the
Snow continued to give cause to
concerns New York's goaltending simply isn't good enough, allowing a
soft one to Johansson and stopping 17 of 21 shots the Flames eventually
directed his way.
Another key to the win may have been a
continued trend - and a surprisingly welcome one - of the Flames taking
relatively few penalties. Although Calgary did surrender a extra-man
goal they continued their predilection of giving the opposition few
opportunities with the man advantage, New York having only three power
plays on the night. Calgary now ranks near the bottom of the NHL in
power plays allowed after being among the league leaders for several
Next up is New Jersey Tuesday night.