If You Can Make It There ...

Flames Complete Big Apple Assault    

January 6th, 2004

Similar road trip, different situation.

A long 15 months ago Greg Gilbert and the Calgary Flames almost became the second team in league history to sweep New York.

They had beaten the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils and came within a goal post of beating the Rangers.

All was well, the Flames were playing well and looked to be well on their way to ending a six year playoff hiatus.

We all know what happened from there.

This year the Flames have beaten the Rangers and then tonight the New York Islanders by a 3-2 score.

Like last year Jamie McLennan has been the goaltender of record, but that's where the similarities end.

And I don't just mean the fact that the Flames manage to avoid the Devils on this trip.

Once again, on Tuesday night, the Flames proved that dedication to a game plan can pretty much topple any obstacles in winning their second straight game and running their record to nine games over .500.

The club learned earlier in the day that their fourth of four centers was on the mend when news came down that Stephane Yelle would miss the game due to concussion symptoms from a mishap in Madison Square Garden.

To replace the Flames third line pivot the club activated first line center Steven Reinprecht, out from early November with a broken leg.

Additionally the club is without its top two goaltenders in Roman Turek and Miikka Kiprusoff, centers Blair Betts and Craig Conroy, and winger Chuck Kobasew.

It just doesn't matter.

The Flames were tentative in the first period, allowing the Islanders to take the play to them but escaping with a 1-0 lead on a fortunate goal by Jarome Iginla. Iginla followed a loose puck to the goal crease and rode the pile into the net past goalie Garth Snow - he of now miniature pads.

The Islanders stormed back in the second period scoring two goals in just over five minutes by Mattias Weinhandl and Jason Blake.

Then the Flames seemed to find some back to back game second wind, turning the tables on their hosts and scoring two straight of their own to take a 3-2 lead.

First Iginla recovered a loose puck in the high slot and fired a high shot towards the Islander cage, resulting in a tip in goal by Oleg Saprykin.

Two minutes later on a two man advantage Iginla capped off his second straight dominant game in New York snapping home a one timer to score the eventual game winner.

The Islanders held a 10-7 shot advantage in the third period but couldn't get the equalizer past Jamie McLennan as the Flames defence core tightened things down and limited the Islanders to few blue chip chances.

The win moves the Flames to 21-12-3-3, good for 48 points in 39 games and a temporary share of 2nd place in the Northwest Division with the Colorado Avalanche (the Aves led the Blue Jackets at press time).

The Flames now have an impressive .667 win percentage on the road derived from a 10-5-0-2 record.





1) Jarome Iginla - Calgarypuck first star on back to back nights in the Big Apple as the Flames captain secures six points in two games. Is he back?

2) Jamie McLennan - Calgarypuck second star on back to back nights, turning aside 31 Islander shots. Providing solid relief goaltending for a club with dire injuries in the cage.

3) Trent Hunter - Blue Jacket cast off was the best Islander on the night, offensively and with the body.

Jamie McLennan stood tall in the third period when he took a screened high shot from Trent Hunter off the shoulder keeping the visitors up a goal in the process.

Mike Peca absolutely stapled Calgary defenceman Andrew Ference when he lifted the defender off the ice and into the plexi-glass with a strong second period hit.

Dave Lowry left the game in the first period with an abdominal injury after being checked by Mattias Weinhandl. Weinhandl was penalized on the play. If Lowry can't go in Chicago the Flames may be forced to go with 19 players as they have no reinforcements with them on the trip. ... Iginla had a season high eight shots on goal on the night, and was dangerous with every shift. ... The Flames edged the Islanders on the shot clock by a narrow 34-33 count, marking the second straight game that they've given up over 30 shots and won. ... Calgary was 1 for 3 on the powerplay and killed off all three Islanders chances to take the battle of special teams. ... Inexplicably the visitors took the face off dot challenge by a wide margin (55%) despite the loss of all three draw aces to injuries (Conroy, Betts and Yelle). Matthew Lombardi bounced back from an atrocious night in Manhattan with a 63% clip (12 of 19) and Jarome Iginla was good on 9 of 13 attempts for 69%. Returnee Steve Reinprecht struggled somewhat taking only 40% of his draws. ... Sutter continues to ride the hot hand playing Iginla almost 25 minutes again tonight. Dean McAmmond must be out of the dog house as he saw over 22 minutes of ice. A surprise on the blueline had Andrew Ference lead all defenders with 21 minutes. ... Looking back two years at the Flames record in 2001-02? The Flames were well into their slide and only had 42 points in 39 games, six fewer than this season. The Flames have 15 more points this season than last year.

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