Calgary Flames 4 Minnesota Wild 3

Flames End Skid; Come From Behind Against Wild 

Rick Charlton

December 27th, 2001

Ah, so that was the problem.

The Flames have become experts lately at blowing leads so they decided to reverse the script by spotting Minnesota a 2-0 edge before roaring back for a 4-3 victory over the Wild in front of 16,730 appreciate fans at the Saddledome last night.

Although not original, nor highly recommended, the approach seemed to work as the Flames bumped their record to 17-13-7-2, good for 43 points. Calgary moves ahead of Dallas by a point for seventh place in the Western Conference and trail sixth place St. Louis by one. Checking the rear view mirror, the Flames are now four points ahead of Phoenix.

And the Flames did it by welcoming back an old friend, emerging superstar Jarome Iginla, with only two points in his previous 10 games, but three points on the night, including two goals.

The win was a huge one for Calgary, struggling for weeks and looking lately like they would submarine even further. The win was only the Flames fourth in its last 20 games and snapped a five game winless streak.

The game started in typical fashion for Calgary, with three powerplays in the first period but giving up two goals against, including one shorthanded and another on the first shot of the game.

It was also a deflating opening for veteran netminder Mike Vernon, making his third Saddledome start of the year on the 16th anniversary of the night he made his NHL debut. Vernon was yanked after the first period, replaced by Roman Turek, after giving up two goals on 12 shots.

Minnesota opened the scoring only 1:17 into the game when Jim Dowd won the faceoff back to defenceman Jason Marshall who promptly blew a drive past Vernon on the first shot of the game.

With Willie Mitchell in the penalty box, Toni Lydman committed a colossal blunder at the Minnesota blueline, allowing Pascal Dupuis to get by him and race the length of the ice to beat Vernon for a shorthanded marker at 5:31.

Iginla, with his 26th of the year, brought the Flames within one with a rare power play goal, a blast from the hash marks that handcuffed Minnesota starter Manny Fernandez at 6:23.

But the Flames immediately dug themselves a hole within seconds with first Marc Savard then Denis Gauthier being penalized, putting the Flames down two men and giving Minnesota a great opportunity to rebuild their two goal edge.

The Flames survived the two man disadvantage and tied the game a minute later when Steve Begin deposited a Scott Nichol rebound behind Fernandez at 10:19.

After Wes Walz was given a retaliation penalty on a big Denis Gauthier hit, Savard put the Flames ahead with his sixth of the season at 13:02.

It was the first time Calgary had notched two powerplay goals in a game since Nov. 20 against Ottawa.

But Minnesota cement-head Matt Johnson picked up a Turek rebound and tied the game at 8:56 of the third, causing the Flames to deflate visibly for several minutes until a momentum turning shift from Savard and Ronald Petrovicky that resulted in several Calgary chances.

The Flames fed off that shift and soon went ahead on a broken play with Clarke Wilm outworking Ladislav Benysek on a potential icing, the puck going to a trailing Iginla who gave the Flames the lead for good at 15:43.

The Flames are starting a stretch of playing 12 of the next 17 at home and need to make hay while they can with a nine game road trip looming later in the year.

Savard, playing the point on the powerplay, played a key role in this game as the Flames entered the contest with only three goals in their last 66 man advantage chances. But the official scoresheet also scolded him with a minus two on the night. It was a mixed performance from the recalcitrant centre, paired for much of the game with Dean McAmmond. For all his offensive flair Savard still has to commit to the defensive side of the puck if he expects to continue to receive the ice time he wants.


Box Score


Petrovicky Conroy  Iginla
McAmmond Savard Clark
Lowry Niedermayer Nichols
Begin Wilm Shantz
Gauthier Boughner
Buzek Regehr
Lydman Kravchuk


1) Jarome Iginla - two goals and an assist. Welcome back. 

2) Jim Dowd - Always a nifty player, two assists and involved all night. 

3) Marc Savard - Anyone who can revive the moribund Calgary powerplay with a goal and an assist deserves not only a star, but a halo as well.


With 20 seconds to go and the Flames hanging on to a one goal lead, Turek stabbed his leg out to stop a Marion Gaborik one timer, preserving the victory.


Denis Gauthier ran over Wes Walz in the second period after the Flames had tied the game, resulting in a fairly uneven fight between the two and Walz, as a bonus, getting the instigator penalty. Flames scored seconds later.


Toni Lydman returned to the Flames lineup after missing the previous two games with the flu. . . . . Wilm, Begin and Clark were on the powerplay early in the second period. . . . . Flames have only two wins in their last eight home starts. . . . . How far will the Flames go to help Iginla win the NHL scoring title? They're sending a tape to the NHL head office of Craig Conroy's goal in Vancouver two nights ago, alleging Iginla should get the assist. . . . Conroy is tied for fourth among NHL assist leaders with 26. . . . . Petr Buzek was leading Flames defencemen in ice time after two periods but veteran Bob Boughner took over from there and ended up logging 21:23 on the night. Filip Kuba led the Wild with 25:20 in ice time. For those wondering if Iginla is tired these days he logged a fairly normal 20 minutes. . . . . Hits were 18-10 in favour of Calgary, Clarke Wilm and Denis Gauthier leading the way with three each for Calgary. Ten different players logged the hits for Minnesota. . . . . Minnesota was credited with only two giveaways, a rather unusual statistic. The Flames had eight. . . . . .Flames were 56% in the faceoff dot with Wilm at 58%. Dowd was 61% for Minnesota.



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