Sutter Wins Flame Debut

Saprykin/Drury Line Carry the Mail

December 29th, 2002
Rick Charlton

AP Photo

Circus of Stars: Sutter's first task is to get the team's best players to be the team's best players.

Only last week, this was a game they might have coughed up.

But the Calgary Flames ground out a 4-2 victory over Anaheim last night, marking a successful coaching debut for Darryl Sutter in front of 16,922 last night at the Saddledome.

The win accomplished a number of things for Sutter, watching a fragile Flames team fall behind and then rally with two goals in each of the second and third periods while playing the kind of patient, grinding game his teams are noted for.

Sutter had also declared that he wanted to see the unnaturally accommodating Flames play tougher in their own building where they entered the game with easily the worst home record in the NHL.

It was only Calgary's third home win of the season.

It was also the first time in a staggering 25 games the Flames had scored more than three goals, a period in which Calgary registered a morose record of 6-15-2-1, and was the first time in five games they had scored in the third and the first time in 16 games they had scored twice in the final frame.

The win leaves Calgary needing only a million more this season to crawl back into a playoff spot, their situation so bleak that this feel-good night offers but only a brief reprieve considering the job remaining in front of them.

Flames are 11-18-5-3 on the season, good for 30 points and still 10 points in arrears of the eighth and final playoff spot in the NHL's tough Western Conference.

Calgary gave an impressive, controlled effort for the most part, although the two Duck goals came on the usual mortifying breakdowns which left Flames starter Roman Turek with little chance.

The Ducks took the lead at 9:10 of the first on a two-on-two rush when Petr Sykora managed to free his stick long enough from the checking of Jarome Iginla to knock in a cross crease pass from Andy McDonald.

Sykora was awarded a critical penalty shot late in the first period when Flames defenceman Bob Boughner closed his hand on the puck in the crease but Turek stoned the Ducks winger cold, keeping the deficit to a manageable one goal.

Martin Gelinas finally brought the Flames even at 3:45 of the second when he deflected a Jarome Iginla point shot through Ducks starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Only a minute and a half later, Oleg Saprykin made a heady pass under pressure to a wide open Chris Drury who winged a shot short side over a dropping Giguere to give Calgary the lead for the first time.

Anaheim tied the game, however, at 17:09 when Patrick Kjellberg managed two whacks close in on Turek with three Flames standing around with little interest.

But Calgary went ahead for good at 11:32 of the third when Chris Clark batted down a clearing attempt at the Ducks blueline and whistled a drive at Giguere. The resulting rebound went right to Saprykin who deftly dangled to his right and backhanded the puck into the back of the net.

Flames then put up their fourth goal at 14:26 when a Ducks defenceman fell, giving Blake Sloan a free run at the net. The stone-handed Flames winger muffed his shot, however, but still found a trailing Stephane Yelle in the slot.

Calgary managed to kill all three Anaheim extra man opportunities but failed to score on two of their own.





Calgary Flames 4
Penguins Anaheim Mighty Ducks 2

Saprykin Drury Clark
Gelinas Conroy Iginla
Begin Yelle Sloan
Berube Johansson Wright
Montador Regehr
Boughner Gauthier
Leopold Buzek

1 Roman Turek - Perhaps a preview of what we might see in the Sutter era, a return to Turek's methodical St. Louis statistics where better defensive coverage yielded fewer surprises. The stop on Sykora's penalty shot may have been the key to the win.

2 Paul Kariya - A concentrated effort from a guy mourning the death of his father only a few days before. And where has this year's Kariya been the last few years when I had him in a hockey pool?

3 Denis Gauthier - His team down by a goal, Gauthier took charge by leveling Jason Krog and generated a physical effort all night as well as finishing plus three.

Bob Boughner closed his hand on the puck in the crease and Petr Sykora was given a penalty shot but Turek was equal to the task, following Sykora across the crease and forcing the backhand attempt wide.

Quite a few doozies in this game but Denis Gauthier set the tone early with the Flames when he caught Jason Krog with his head down at the Flames blueline, sending the Ducks forward butt over tea kettle and into the boards in the first period.

Get Your Calgarypuck Gear!

There was ex-Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed wandering the corridors with a grandson in tow . . . . . Interesting comment from Darryl Sutter on the post-game show. He said the way the game is refereed these days the front of the net has suddenly become the easiest place on the ice to play although it's tough to convince players of that. Maybe not coincidentally, the Flames had numerous deflection opportunities through the first period and eventually saw Gelinas tie the game in exactly that manner early in the second . . . . . . You saw all of the good and some of the bad from Oleg Saprykin this night. The good being the obvious skill he brings to bear, a sensational pass to set up Chris Drury's goal and then the game winner itself. But he was also knocked on his butt on virtually every shift, a trait carried over from his first year in the NHL. At least he's not getting killed like he used to. . . . . . Considering the number of short-handed goals the Flames have surrendered this year it was certainly interesting to see two of the chief culprits, Jordan Leopold and Chris Drury manning the points in one sequence . . . . . Flames were 61% in the faceoff circle, led by the 69% of Craig Conroy. Andy McDonald was the only Duck winning more than half his draws at 53%. . . . . . Toni Lydman led the Flames with 25:29 in ice time but Bob Boughner and Denis Gauthier, both plus three on the night, received a few more minutes than they normally would, 22:44 and 22:21 for each respectively. Niclas Havelid led the Ducks with 23:35.
Read other Stories
Talk About it!