Streak Is Over!
Turek Carries the Flames to Win
November 23rd, 2002
|3 Goals!: Chris
Clark, Denis Gauthier and Chuck Kobasew (above) all lit the lamp.
Denis Gauthier put all the frustration
of himself and his teammates behind a third period rocket that finally
broke the two goal barrier his Flames hadn't been able to crack for the
previous seven games.
The Flames defenceman, the chief
spokesman for his beleagured mates during this epic nosedive,
practically drove a Craig Conroy pass straight through Chicago starter
Jocelyn Thibault at 9:26 of the third period last night.
It was the first time in eight games
Calgary had scored more than one goal.
Gauthier's bullet also proved to be the
winning marker as the Flames snapped an epic and bizarre seven game
losing streak with a 3-1 win over Chicago, finishing an otherwise
disastrous five game home stand on a positive note.
The win leaves Calgary at 6-9-3-3 on
the season, with 18 points and in a tie for 12th place in the NHL's
Calgary is four points out of a playoff
spot after being fourth in the West only 17 days ago.
Scoring was THE problem these
nightmarish last three weeks and it didn't look like things would be
much different last night until Gauthier's goal finally broke the ice
mid-way through the third period.
Craig Berube, the last man of his unit
still on the ice, did yeoman work behind the net to finally spring the
puck loose to Conroy who took little time sliding a perfect pass to
Gauthier, pinching in from the point.
Alexei Zhamnov opened scoring at 6:10
of the first period when Steve Sullivan slithered past a Flames
defenceman on the right boards and fed a cross-ice pass to a trailing
Zhamnov for an easy open net marker.
But Chris Clark, powering into the
Chicago zone on his off-wing, did his best Mark Messier imitation with a
wrister through Thibault's legs at 13:22 to tie the game.
While Flames were probably the better
team in the first period, highlighted by Chuck Kobasew's one timer that
boinked straight off the post just before Zhamnov's goal, Chicago
gradually took over from there, pumping 14 shots at Flames starter Roman
Turek in the second period. "Large," making his first start
since a home ice 3-0 win over Buffalo three weeks ago, was rock solid,
foiling the Hawks at every opportunity.
Kobasew, with his fifth of the season,
put the game out of reach when he found a Chris Drury rebound and
managed to get a quick snapshot away in the slot just as his stick was
breaking in half at 11:26 of the third.
One wonders what might have happened to
Flames head coach Greg Gilbert if the Flames hadn't managed to win this
one but the bizarre set of circumstances that led to seven losses in a
row may have been staying the hand of GM Craig Button.
When examined closely, this last ten
game stretch may have been the best the Flames have played defensively
in many seasons, having surrendered two or fewer goals in all but one
During the string, Calgary, minus two
empty net markers, posted a team goals against average of 2.00 and rose
from 23rd defensively in the league to 14th.
Calgary's penalty kill, stopping five
Chicago advantages last night, has also risen from the bottom third of
the league before this streak began, to 15th overall.
But where were the goals? The 30th
ranked powerplay in the NHL was certainly on hand last night, going zero
for two on the night.
Jarome Iginla looked quicker in this
one, sharper, but the big bucks demand big results and they continue to
elude the Flames resident superstar, now with only one goal in his last
eleven games and only four on the season, a pace of 16 for the year. He
had four shots on the night.
Turek faced 33 shots on the night to 19
Next up is an ominous five game road
trip, with Boston first on the agenda. Calgary plays 11 of the next 14,
heading into Christmas, on the road.