Calgary Flames 3 Buffalo Sabres 1

Flames Start Fast, Edge Sabres

Rick Charlton

January 3rd, 2002

It was a textbook game.

The Flames won it in textbook fashion, scoring early and often before pinning their lead to the back of superb goaltending from starter Roman Turek.

It could also be said the Sabres lost in textbook fashion, failing to show up in the opening 22 minutes then suddenly deciding to come to life but finding the wakeup call far too little and far too late.

The result last night was a 3-1 Calgary win over the visiting Buffalo Sabres in front of 15,316 fans at the Saddledome, the first victory by a Flames team over Buffalo in ten meetings.

The win elevated the Flames record to 18-13-8-2 on the year, good for 46 points and enough to keep their one point edge on the charging Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference. The Flames moved into a tie with seventh place Dallas in the west while the Coyotes are only one point in arrears.

At the half-way mark of the season, the Flames are in a playoff spot for the first time since 1994 when they were under the tutelage of Dave King.

The loss was the eighth in the last nine games for the plummeting Sabres, now 15-21-4-1 on the year.

Defenceman Toni Lydman opened scoring with a bullet past the glove hand of Buffalo starter Martin Biron at 2:38 of the first, taking advantage of a clean faceoff win in the Sabre zone by Rob Niedermayer.

Moments later Steve Begin drew a penalty when he was dragged down by Nelson Pyatt as he was near to pushing the puck into the Buffalo net. Super-pest Vaclav Varada was then called for slashing Conroy and the Flames had a two man advantage.

From there the Flames built a 2-0 lead on a nifty passing play with Conroy feeding Marc Savard sneaking in from the point at 4:41.

Conroy put another nail in the Sabre coffin when he picked off an errant Buffalo pass and raced in alone to beat Biron just 2:04 into the second period.

The Sabres seemed to wake up at that point. For the next 30 minutes the Flames managed only seven shots while the Sabres were swarming Turek with superb chances from Tim Connelly, Chris Gratton, Stu Barnes and Maxim Afinogenov.

Pyatt, a recent call-up, finally beat Turek at 2:29 of the third period on a deflection of an Alexei Zhitnik point shot.

The game then took a decisive turn just as the Sabres looked like they might close the gap further. With the Flames on the ropes Sabres cementhead Rob Ray took a momentum killing if not downright idiotic series of penalties that resulted in a Flames five on three advantage midway through the third period.

Bob Boughner had wiped out Dmitri Kalinin along the boards and Ray went after the Calgary defenceman like a man possessed, but ended up with a five minute major, a ten minute misconduct and a game misconduct.

Although they never scored on the ensuing powerplay opportunities, the Flames still managed to chew up valuable time and pretty well put the Sabres down for the count.

For Ray, the series of penalties launched him over a rather dubious milestone, passing 3000 penalty minutes for his career.

Turek faced 29 shots on the night while the Flames directed 24 on Biron.

Flames were one for seven on the powerplay while the Sabres were zero for four.

The game may have been costly for the Flames, however, as Conroy, even though he later scored, never took a single faceoff in this game after being slashed in the first few minutes by Varada.

Box Score


McAmmond Conroy  Iginla
Petrovicky Savard Clark
Lowry Niedermayer Nichol
Allison Wilm Begin
Boughner Regehr
Montador Buzek
Lydman Kravchuk


1) Bob Boughner - didn't show up on the scoresheet but had the Sabres trying to kill him all night. 

2) Roman Turek - Looked early like he would be bored to death then suddenly ended up saving Calgary's bacon the rest of the way. 

3) Alexei Zhitnik - Toiling in obscurity in Buffalo but one of the better offensive d-men in the league and a good night with five shots and an assist.


With the Flames up 3-1 in the third period and memories of the Phoenix debacle perhaps tickling the back of their heads, Turek slammed the door on the Sabres when he extended himself cross-crease to stop a rebound attempt from Stu Barnes.


It wasn't much in a rather quiescent game but Bob Boughner's takeout of Dmitri Kalinin midway through the third, which set a fire under Sabre tough guy Rob Ray, swung the momentum back in the Flames favour.


He doesn't show up in these parts often but it was good to hear Buffalo broadcaster Danny Gare on the TEAM960 first period intermission. A legendary Calgary Centennial and linemate of Mike Rogers in the mid-70's, Gare went on to a prolific 13 year career in Buffalo, Detroit and Edmonton, scoring 354 goals including an amazing 51 as a 21 year-old on a "checking line" with Don Luce and Craig Ramsay in 1975-76. A more interesting statistic for a fellow only 5"9" and 175 lbs. was his career 1,254 penalty minutes. . . . . . Flames went with 11 forwards and seven defencemen, including Steve Montador and Jamie Allison . . . . . Craig Berube was the only Calgary scratch, much to the delight of Rob Ray. . . . . . One of the more comical moments of the night - if not the season - occurred late in the second when Rhett Warrener, became so enraged with Boughner that he went into the Flames bench area to grab the Calgary defenceman. Warrener ended up with a two minute minor and a 10 minute misconduct. . . . . . Sabres outhit the Flames 24-21 on the night but Boughner led the way with five hits. Curtis Brown had four hits for Buffalo . . . . The official scoresheet contained a suspicious and disturbing statistic - Conroy, normally Calgary's best faceoff man, didn't take a single draw all night. Remember he was chopped on the wrist by Varada early in the first period. His workload went instead to linemates Iginla and McAmmond. Savard and Niedermayer were killed at the faceoff dot, 33% and 44% respectively. Iginla wasn't much better at 46%. The Flames were 49% overall on the night. Chris Gratton was an amazing 80% on faceoffs.



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