Leetch Sinks Flames in Overtime

McLennan Shuts Out Rangers for 60 Minutes

November 7th, 2002
Rick Charlton

AP Photo

Iggy Pop-less: Iginla and the Flames couldn't solve Dan Blackburn

Another night, another loss in overtime.

And a point or better in 10 of its last 11 games.

It was another glass half full/half empty night for the Calgary Flames, losing a discouraging 1-0 overtime decision to the New York Rangers, Calgary's third overtime loss already this season, but leaving the Flames with at least a point in an eighth consecutive game.

Calgary has collected five of a possible six points to date on its current five game road trip on the eastern seaboard with two more games to go.

Flames also missed a chance to become only the second team in NHL history to sweep all three New York teams on a single road trip after earlier victories at Long Island and in New Jersey.

Chris Drury might have won the game for Calgary for the third consecutive night, taking a brilliant Scott Nichol pass while short-handed late in the third period and batting a shot off the post behind winning netminder Dan Blackburn.

But a pinching Brian Leetch took a sharp cross crease Mark Messier pass for a one-timer that barely eluded hard-luck Flames netminder Jamie McLennan only 51 seconds into overtime to seal the win for New York in front of the obligatory sellout crowd of 18,200.

"Mess had some time, he's a great passer . . . . .it was on my tape and went in," said Leetch of the winning play.

It was the first time in eight games the high-powered Flames, playing for the third time in four nights, had scored less than three goals, but oddly enough, the third time in only 14 games this young season the Flames had been shutout.

"I think we played very strong for most of the game," said Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr. "Jamie McLennan played a tremendous game for us in net."

McLennan stopped 34 of 35 shots in the loss while Blackburn halted 26 shots for the shutout.

"We want to keep moving up," Regehr added, emphasizing the extra point the Flames received and eyeing the standings where the Flames sit at 5-3-3-3 on the year, good for 16 points and yes, fourth place in the NHL's Western Conference pending results from the late games tonight.

The most difficult part of this road trip is probably now in the rear view mirror, with Mike Keenan's Florida Panthers next up on Saturday and the hapless Atlanta Thrashers the next night. Interestingly, it's exactly this type of situation which sank Calgary last year, putting in solid if not unexpected performances on some nights but wasting those efforts in losses against the lesser lights in the league.

If anything, the next two games, virtual must wins if this team is to continue up the ladder as Regehr wants, which will test the professionalism and maturity of the emerging Flames.

Neither team last night was able to manage any length of fixed pressure, both playing well in their own zones, perhaps more a surprise for the Rangers given their reputation than we might have expected from the road team.

Calgary was zero for two on the powerplay but stopped all five Ranger power plays. Flames were awful to start the year on the penalty kill but have quietly moved into the top half of the league overall.



New York Rangers 1
Calgary Flames 0

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

1 Jamie McLennan - Made every stop he should have made and a few more as well to draw a road point for the Flames.

2 Dan Blackburn - Wasn't as challenged as McLennan but stopped 'em all and got a post for luck.

3 Robyn Regehr - Throwing Lindros around most of the night. He's light years ahead of where he was last year, living up to his potential and starting to make another Pierre Lacroix trade look bad.

A hard pass from the point by Vladimir Malakhov with only four minutes remaining found Radek Dvorak wide open at the side of the net for a quick shot, but McLennan slid across the crease to stack the pads and send the game to overtime.

Eric Lindros, floundering most of this season, found himself flying when Toni Lydman lined him up for a masterful quasi-shoulder/hip check in the opening minutes of the game. Lydman is mostly known for his puck-rushing skills but has also been delivering some physical play the coaches might not have been expecting.

You know, you can never say this enough - Lindros, Bure, Richter, Leetch and Holik make more than the entire Flames payroll ... Flames Captain Craig Conroy sat out his second straight game but declared during a CTV Sportsnet interview that he would be ready to play on Saturday night versus Florida. Conroy said he had skated 20 minutes earlier in the day. Doghouse centre Marc Savard played 10:04 in his absence ... Dixon Ward had only 55 seconds of ice time, barely cracking a sweat. Did anyone notice? ... Jordan Leopold showed his speed mid-way through the second period, pinching in from the offensive blueline but finding the Rangers breaking out behind him on a two on one. From a standing start Leopold recovered to catch Vladimir Malakhov by the Calgary blueline, erasing the odd man advantage. Or maybe Malakhov showed how god awful slow he is ... An odd spectacle - Chris Drury led the Flames with six shots but his right winger, Jarome Iginla, had zero ... Regehr was given the task of handling the physicality of Eric Lindros and the slickness of Pavel Bure. "It was fun playing against those guys. I knew I would face a big challenge. It was fun out there to go head to head against those guys and shut them down." ... Leetch led the Rangers with 25:31 in ice time while Lindros, off to a lamentable start for the Rangers, played over 24 minutes after being benched two games ago ... Lydman led the Flames with 24:46 in ice time.


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