Phantom Call Nixes Win

Flames Continue to Give Canucks Fits 

December 15th, 2002
Rick Charlton

AP Photo

On the Road Again: Lydman and the Coach-less Flames continue to play their best hockey away from Calgary.

After all the turmoil, the heartbreak, we find the problem has actually been a very simple one.

Calgary has been playing in the wrong rink.

While the Flames have been absolutely miserable at the Saddledome this year, tormenting their sensationally faithful fans with a lamentable 2-9-4 record, they remain undefeated at The Garage in Vancouver, now 2-0-1 after a 3-3 tie last night.

Separated by 17 points in the standings, a veritable light year with only a third of the season gone, it seems odd indeed the Canucks should struggle on home ice against the floundering Flames.

Or that the Flames should be a respectable one game under .500 on the road but horrendous in their home whites.

But the result could have been so much better for the hard-working Flames if not for a controversial penalty call that yielded a late Vancouver power play goal.

A struggle near the Vancouver blueline saw Canucks Trevor Linden wacked across the face by an errant stick, that of teammate Trent Klatt. But the referees on duty saw a different story and penalized Calgary's Steve Begin who had roughed Klatt and caused the stick of the Vancouver forward to take out his own player.

With one second remaining in the ensuing Vancouver powerplay, Sami Salo rocketed a point shot through a bunch of bodies and past Calgary starter Roman Turek at 15:09 to secure the tie.

Vancouver may have had the best opportunity to win it from there but Todd Bertuzzi went fruit loop with a minute left in overtime, on a breakaway but deciding to attempt a pass to teammate Markus Naslund rather than shoot.

The star of the night might have been diminutive Flames forward Scott Nichol, a quintessential fourth liner breaking out of a season long scoring drought with a goal and two assists, bringing his season total to four points.

The tie leaves the Flames 8-15-5-3 on the season, good for 24 points and nine points in arrears of the eighth and final playoff spot in the NHL's Western Conference.

Al MacNeil is now 2-2-2 as Calgary's interim coach with no replacement in sight.

Markus Naslund opened scoring from behind a Brendan Morrison screen on a Vancouver powerplay only 3:25 in, accelerating off the side boards and whistling a hard wrister over Turek's shoulder.

But Calgary tied the game at 14:10 when Nichol executed a nifty backhand pass to Bob Boughner, the burly defenceman surprising the Canucks by pinching in from the right point and finding a wide open net from the crease area.

Vancouver recovered the lead quickly, however, when Bertuzzi, sprung lose by Naslund, bore down on Turek and flummoxed the Flames netminder with a brilliant top shelf backhand shot at 16:52.

Nichol tied the game at 11:59 of the second while the teams were playing four on four, blowing by a Vancouver defender, driving the net and sliding a shot that barely crawled through the pads of Skudra.

Craig Conroy then put the Flames up 3-2 at 4:34 of the third, his ninth of the year coming from the crease area as he corralled and rifled a nifty behind the net Martin Gelinas pass over Skudra's shoulder.

But the Begin penalty resulted in Salo's point shot rocket eluding Turek at 15:09, resulting in a 3-3 deadlock.

Canucks entered the game two for 17 on the powerplay in three games against the Flames this year were two for four on the night. Calgary was zero for five with the man advantage.

Both Turek and Skudra made 30 saves.

It was only the third time in 17 games the Flames had scored more than two goals. But the second time in the last three.

Next up is Nashville on Tuesday night, The Battle of the Basement in the Western Conference, the Flames only one point ahead of the Predators.



Calgary Flames 3
Vancouver Canucks 3

Saprykin Johansson Drury
Gelinas Conroy Nichol
Wright Yelle Clark
Berube Sloan --
Lydman Regehr
Montador Gauthier
Leopold Boughner

1 Scott Nichol - quadruples his point total in one night, a goal and two assists.

2 Todd Bertuzzi - a presence all night, a goal and an assist, the real deal.

3 Craig Conroy - A strong two way game, plus two on the night, a goal and now on pace for 24 on the season.

Call it the hit that never was but a turning point nonetheless, Trent Klatt wiping out Trevor Linden with an errant stick but Steve Begin paying the price and the Canucks ultimately tying the game on the ensuing power play. Linden went off bleeding profusely.

With the Canucks having tied the game 3-3 late in the game and buzzing ferociously, Turek stopped both Brent Sopel and then Matt Cooke with quick saves.

Jarome Iginla missed his fourth consecutive game, with some media sources suggesting that the original hip flexor/groin problem might be yielding to an injury to his hand. . . . . . Naslund had a four goal game against Edmonton on Saturday. Martin Gelinas, now a Flame, was the last Canuck to put four behind an opposition netminder, his feat coming in 1997. . . . . . Mattias Ohlund suffered a knee injury on an innocent looking play early in the second period and never returned . . . . . Canucks are 11-2-2 on the road . . . . . Mattias Johansson had 16:23 in ice time after only two periods, far and away the most of any Flames forward and trailing only Toni Lydman by 12 seconds. . . . . . .Lydman eventually led the Flames with 28:22 in ice time on the night but Chris Drury was the leading forward at 23:09. Ed Jovanovski led the Canucks with 28:24 in ice time . . . . . Stephane Yelle was 75% in the faceoff circle, pacing the 58% team mark of the Flames. Canucks were led by Artem Chubarov at 64%. . . . . . No word on a new coach for the Flames, either real or contrived. Just thought we'd throw that in just in case Ken King is reading this stuff. . . . . . . Gelinas and Drury had five shots apiece.
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