Calgary Flames 2 Detroit Red Wings 0

Vernon Shakes Monkey, Blanks Wings 

Rick Charlton

December 10th, 2001

He's been the forgotten guy on a 23 man roster.

Dogged by personal troubles, including a serious illness to his mother, his play so obviously below standard that even a spirited defence offered by his teammates seemed to ring hollow, so vilified in his hometown that his coach had mercifully played him only on the road until injuries forced his hand.

But Mike Vernon showed last night he's back, giving his team the huge game it desperately needed with 28 hard fought stops in a 2-0 win over the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings in front of 16,009 ravenous and appreciative fans last night at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

It was also Vernon's first victory in 13 appearances, his fine play coming at a timely moment with first string starter Roman Turek still down with a knee injury.

Helping Vernon's efforts were the 16 blocked shots from his defence core, including six from Robyn Regehr and four by Bob Boughner.

For two periods, six time Vezina winner Dominik Hasek and two time Stanley Cup winner Vernon stared each other down in a classic goaltending duel.

That is until the Detroit netminder finally cracked at 4:11 of the third period when Jarome Iginla provided the edge the Flames needed with his league leading 24th goal of the season.

Craig Conroy drove the net and had two clean shots at Hasek before Dean McAmmond spun a rebound into the crease area where Iginla ignored the hacking of Nik Lidstrom and pushed the puck across the line for a 1-0 Flames lead.

The goal extended Iginla's lead over opponent Brendan Shanahan in the NHL scoring race, the Flames star winger now having 42 points to 34 for Shanahan.

The victory was in serious doubt when Jarome Iginla was penalized with only 1:17 to play and the Wings pulling Hasek for a two man advantage.

But a visibly relieved Rob Niedermayer was able to chop a long-range shot through the Wings and down the length of the ice for only his second of the season to seal the victory.

Flames are now 15-8-6-2 on the season for 38 points, the win inching Calgary to within one point of the idle Oilers for second place in the NHL's Northwest Division.

Although the Detroit victory was only Calgary's second win in its last twelve starts it was a nice follow-through to a dismal effort in a 4-0 home ice loss to the Ducks on Saturday. The sinking Calgary ship is beginning to right itself, the Flames now 2-2-2 in their last six games.

Vernon's finest moment came in the third period on a blueline turnover that sprung loose a determined Brett Hull for a close-in bullet, but Vernon sprawled across the crease to keep the score 1-0 in favour of Calgary.

The game also marked the refurbishment of Al MacNeil as an NHL head coach, however briefly, given the two game suspension of Greg Gilbert for the Saturday debacle with the Ducks. McNeil won his 104th career game and later, on the TEAM 960 post-game show, Conroy credited McNeil for his calming influence behind the bench.

This one was hardly a repeat of the 4-2 win over Detroit earlier in the year when the Flames basically flattened the Wings, but kicking, scratching, clawing and hanging on can still work on occasion and that's what the Flames did in this one.

The Wings had the better of the chances but, aside from the stellar netminding of Vernon, the other key difference might have been the outstanding and spirited play of Iginla and linemates McAmmond and Conroy.

As much as the Wings held overall territorial advantage, the Iginla line was equally dominant at the other end, continually overrunning the desperate defence pairing of Nik Lidstrom and Steve Duschene.

Hasek's best save came with three minutes lto go in the first when Conroy left Lidstrom in his vapour trail behind the Detroit net, passing out front to Iginla who had two stabs before the puck skittered away.

Vernon played a strong game throughout but some of his best saves may have came in the second period with a miraculous pad save on a close in rebound chance by Chris Chelios as well as a breakaway stop on Steve Yzerman.

The Wings kept pouring it on but Vernon was equal to the task, stopping all 13 shots in the second and 21 through two.

The Flames mercifully seemed to have picked up some lessons from their previous starts in giving the Wings only three power play opportunities, killing them all. Calgary had only two man advantage opportunities on Detroit.


Box Score


McAmmond Conroy Iginla
Niedermayer Savard Clark
Lowry Wilm Hentunen
Petrovicky Begin Cowan
Regehr Lydman
Gauthier Boughner
Kravchuk Allison


1) Mike Vernon - Calgary fans were cheering him on - that's a victory in itself. And he deserved it for the third straight game. 

2) Dominik Hasek - The Flames had fewer chances than the Wings but Hasek was every bit as good as Vernon with 25 saves. 

3) Jarome Iginla - an emerging leader. When his team, crippled by the NHL disciplinarians earlier in the day, needed a big game he dragged them collectively by their hair to victory.


With the Flames up 1-0 midway through the third period the Flames turned the puck over at their blueline, Nik Lidstrom springing Brett Hull loose for a close-in chance on Vernon. But the Flames netminder sprawled lengthwise across the crease and gave Hull zero to shoot at.


We'll call this one a hit but describing it as a stab to the nether regions might be more accurate. In the second period Chris Clark, already agitating enough to draw Igor Larionov into a penalty earlier in the night, reached around the Russian centre with an innocent looking hook. But Larionov dropped like a rock while clutching his groin. Ooops. Larionov tried to come back in the third period but promptly took a point shot from a Flame in the same region. Larionov hobbled off and called it a night.


Roman Turek told CTV Sportsnet he'll start skating again tomorrow . . . . . Marc Savard led the 55% effort of the Flames in the faceoff circle with a 62% win rate. Craig Conroy was 53% while Steve Begin was 80%. Not unexpectedly, Steve Yzerman was 58%. . . . . Flames outhit the Wings 18-14 although an observer might wonder which game the official scorer was watching as the contest seemed more spirited than the statistics might indicate. Kirk Maltby had four hits for the Wings and Jukka Hentunen had four for the Flames. . . . . . Toni Lydman, relied upon heavily in the absence of Derek Morris, logged 25:13 in ice time followed closely by Bob Boughner at 24:29. Nik Lidstrom played 27:22. . . . . . Calgary's last four wins have been identical scores of 2-0. . . . . .



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