Noodles Nets First Flame Win

Jamie McLennan, Chuck Kobasew Backstop Flames

November 4th, 2002
Rich Charlton

AP Photo

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 second.

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 Roman Turek.

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 minors.

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 years running.

Next up is New Jersey Tuesday night.



Calgary Flames 4
New York Islanders 2

Gelinas Conroy Iginla
Niedermayer Drury Kobasew
Wright Yelle Clark
Berube Johansson Nichol
Lydman Regehr
Gauthier Leopold
Buzek Boughner

1 Chuck Kobasew - An early glimpse of what this young player will be, pouncing on a giveaway and mercilessly salting the game away with Calgary's fourth goal. The quick hands are a dead giveaway of a star in training. 

2 Mattias Johansson - With Conroy down, stepped up with a goal and smart play all night long. 

3 Rob Niedermayer - Much maligned Flames winger has two assists and plenty of muscle on the boards with his second solid effort in a row.

A surprise pass from behind the net found Islander Trent Hunter for a hard backhand in the first period, but McLennan managed to slide from the post to the centre of his crease in a flash, getting his body in the way to preserve a Flames 1-0 lead.

Dave Scatchard was barreling towards the Calgary goal when he was shoved from behind by Scott Nichol and blasted over Jamie McLennan, sending the Flames netminder sprawling and causing coach Greg Gilbert's hair to go snow white in an instant.

You know you're getting old when you remember Clark Gillies and Rod Langway as rookies and Roger Nielson as head coach of the Leafs. All were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame today. . . . . . . Flames edge ahead in the all-time series between these two teams, now 40-39-20 in favour of Calgary . . . . . . Marc Savard drew the short straw for the third game in a row, joining Blake Sloan and Steve Begin in the press box. . . . . . McLennan won his first NHL start as an Islander, beating the Flames in New York on Jan 7, 1995. . . . . . The fight card had Craig Berube getting his sweater pulled over his head by Eric Cairns in the first period but still managing to land a few bombs while blindfolded. . . . . . It's the first time in Calgary history the Flames have played all three New York teams on a single road trip. Only one team has won against all three teams on a single trip - Vancouver last season. . . . . . Another strong night for Toni Lydman on the Flames blueline, leading Calgary with 25:29 in ice time. Aucoin led the Islanders with 26:19 in ice time. . . . . . . Jarome Iginla had no shots on the night but his big hit set up Drury's eventual game winner. . . . . . Drury, Lydman and Jordan Leopold led Calgary with four shots each. Aucoin and Yashin had four shots each for New York. . . . . . Yelle destroyed the Islanders in the faceoff circle, leading Calgary with a 70% winning percentage. Flames were 58% overall. Dave Scatchard was 53% in the faceoff circle.
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