Turek Stars In Nashville

Shut Out Win Keeps Flames Out of Cellar 

December 17th, 2002
Rick Charlton

AP Photo

Shut Out: Rookie Jordan Leopold and the rest of his defensive mates posted a shut out on Tuesday.

Take the bags off your heads Flames fans, your team isn't number 15.

While the eerie search for a new head coach roars along at a snails pace, the interim bench boss, 67 year-old Al MacNeil continues to raise a few eyebrows, guiding his charges to points in five of their last seven games, the latest a 3-0 victory over the Nashville Predators.

The win allowed the Flames to escape the ignoble fate of being 15th and dead last in the NHL's Western Conference, the Predators entering the game a single point behind Calgary in the standings.

Flames are now 9-15-5-3 on the year for 26 points, a single point behind each of Columbus and Phoenix (pending a result last night) and seven points behind eighth place LA prior to the Kings playing later in the evening.

Roman Turek stopped 23 Predator drives in recording his second shutout of the season and probably one of the easiest blankings of the season.

The win broke a four game Calgary losing streak in Nashville in which the Flames had been outscored 14-2.

While the Flames are easily the NHL's worst home team at 2-8-4-1 they are now undefeated in four on the road and a highly respectable 7-7-1-2 away from the Saddledome.

"We came out on top in the first ten minutes and that's what we wanted to do," said Martin Gelinas on FAN960 after the game.

Calgary had gone 14 of 15 games scoring two or fewer goals but have now potted three goals in three of their last four games, all without last year's MVP candidate Jarome Iginla, missing his fifth in a row with an injury.

The Flames essentially dominated this one from start to finish, taking control five on five and killing penalties ferociously against the 12th ranked power play in the league.

Steve Begin opened scoring, Chris Clark picking up the puck on the boards, spinning and tossing it at the net where Begin deflected it past Tomas Vokoun at 1:40 of the first period.

It was some measure of redemption for Begin who was called for a high sticking penalty - a wrong call as it later turned out - that led to Vancouver's late tying goal two nights ago.

Calgary then struck twice in 45 seconds, Gelinas joining a cloud of Flames pounding away at a loose puck in the Nashville crease before putting the puck past Vokoun at 5:14 of the second period.

Craig Conroy, taking a blind, backhand feed off the boards by call-up Ladislav Kohn, pulled in front of the net and scored into an open net at 5:59, giving the Flames their biggest lead since Turek blanked Buffalo 3-0 on Halloween night.

Nashville had six powerplays, three in each of the first two periods, but Calgary's vastly improved penalty-killing was masterful, giving the Predators only a handful of opportunities.

Calgary was zero for three on the night with the man advantage.

Only 10,216 showed up for this one, but that might be a blessing given Predator owner Craig Leipold has promised a refund of a ticket price increase if Nashville fails to make the playoffs. That's a good bet at this point.

Next up is a key matchup with Columbus where the Flames have lost their last four straight, similar to the predicament they entered Nashville. Calgary then goes on to play struggling Pittsburgh followed by Minnesota before the Christmas break. Win those three and . . . . . they're probably still a long way out of a playoff spot but maybe not so far that you couldn't see some hope.



Calgary Flames 3
Nashville Predators 0

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

1 Martin Gelinas - only his third goal in 21 games but picking up the pace in his last two, playing with energy and an edge. Added an assist as well and is now a remarkable plus three on the year. 

2 Roman Turek - letter perfect with 23 saves in a workmanlike effort. 

3 Steve Begin - scored his second of the year but his best work might have been on the penalty kill.

Bob Boughner wasted Scott Hartnell in the second period, leading the young Predator to chase down the Flames assistant captain and take a retaliation penalty.

Flames up 1-0 and shorthanded for the third time in the first period, Chris Drury broke in on Tomas Vokoun, blowing by a Nashville defender but Vokoun managed to keep his team in the game with an outstanding save.

That might have been one of the more over the top renditions of O'Canada and the Star Spangled Banner that we've ever heard. Mercy. Please. Ooops, well-known country singer, Paul Brandt of Calgary, in Nashville working on his career, sang the anthems and was also a guest with Peter Maher in the first intermission. I guess we should be supporting the local boy instead of dissing him. . . . . Petr Buzek was an unhealthy scratch, down with the flu. Jarome Iginla missed his fifth straight game while Jamie Wright, just back from an injury, was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. . . . . . Okay, so maybe MacNeil isn't so brilliant, the Flames called twice for too many men on the ice. . . . . Andy Delmore leads the NHL with nine power play goals. . . . . . Chris Drury is both a blessing and a danger on the power play, the wily Flames forward crafty on the offensive side but a liability on many of the seven shorthanded goals scored against the Flames this year. Again last night, Scott Walker took advantage of Drury's inexperience as a blueliner to get a great chance shorthanded on Turek. . . . . . Ladislav Kohn picked up an assist in his first game back as a Flame. . . . . Don't look now, but Conroy is on pace for 26 goals, roughly the same pace he scored last year. . . . . . Toni Lydman posted his routine team-leading ice time of 23:41 with Kimmo Timonen leading Nashville with 24:24. . . . . . Flames usually dominate in the faceoff circle but only Stephane Yelle could claw his way to 50% with the Calgary as a group managing only 43% on the night. David Legwand led the Predators at 53%.


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