Flames Hang In With Green Blue 

Ducks Prevail in Close One

February 4th, 2002
D'Arcy McGrath

Lowry Conroy Iginla
Gelinas Conroy Saprykin
Niedermayer Yelle Sloan
Berube Begin Nichol
Lydman Boughner
Leopold Montador
Dupont Mottau

A decent start to the 2002003 season had fans thinking the painful April drought was finally to end, before a debilitating November literally doused the season.

You won't hear it in any Flame sound byte but the club is well aware they are now playing out the string.

The Flames chewed up a link in that 30 games string on Tuesday night by dropping a 3-2 contest to the now 8th place Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

The NHL frowns on teams losing games on purpose of course, but that won't keep Calgary fans from quietly hoping for that dubious but also prosperous prize of drafting first overall come June.

The fact is that most players on any current NHL roster won't themselves be around to enjoy the fruits of a last place finish since most prospects take three or more years to surface.

Add in pride, and basically you get a team that's very good at losing hockey games, but doing everything they can to avoid repeating prior transgressions.

Enter the injuries.

Concurrent injuries to three of the club's top six defenceman would be enough to make most devout hockey fans throw themselves off the nearest tall building. The fact that the timing of such coincides with the all important "high gear" stretch drive, and you can almost taste the bitterness.

Unless of course it helps your club in a perverse way ... by making winning next to impossible.

It wasn't the young'uns that caused the early troubles in this one however, as Jordan Leopold, Steve Montador, Mike Mottau and Micki Dupont all played reasonably well.

Instead it was the veteran troika of Roman Turek, Bob Boughner and Toni Lydman who put the Flames behind the eight ball early.

With the puck bouncing around the Flame crease Toni Lydman found it in his feet and tried to flip it out. The puck glanced off of Bob Boughner to Roman Turek who bobbled it onto Stanislav Chistov's stick who slid the puck into the cage.

Less than a minute later the Ducks doubled the score when Oleg Saprykin let the puck drift off his stick to Mike Leclerc who took advantage of a flat footed Leopold to fire one by Turek.

Rob Niedermayer made the score 2-1 when he beat Sandis Ozolinsh down the boards took the puck to the net and beat former Flame J.S. Giguere with a high shot.

The Flames had the better of the chances in the second period, but failed to get one by Giguere sending the game to the third with the 2-1 first period score in tact.

Niedermayer scored again, a powerplay tip from the slot, to make the score 2-2, and that's where the real drama began to unfold.

Chris Drury appeared to have saved a sure goal by stopping the puck on the goal line, the puck went back up the ice with the Flames getting a golden opportunity, an opportunity that resulted in a penalty to the Ducks Ruslan Salei. 

With Salei heading off the ice the video officials called down and ruled that the Drury save play was actually a goal giving the Ducks the game winner.

The Flames pressed through the final 9 minutes of the period but failed to tie it up. Chris Drury had two clear breaks himself but fired wide on both chances.

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Anaheim Ducks 3
Calgary Flames 2

1) Mike Leclerc - Goal and an assist 32 seconds apart in the first period. 

2) Rob Niedermayer - Taught Ducks fans the down side of Sandis Ozolinsh with a great goal in the first period. Added another to tie things up in the third.

3) J.S. Gigeure - Strong over the last two periods to preserve the win.

With the score still knotted at zeros in the first period, Giguere set up the Ducks initial frame by stoning Craig Conroy and Rob Niedermayer in back to back chances.

Early in the second period Steve Montador stepped up to punish a rushing Jason Krogg with an open ice hit.

Of the young quartet, Jordan Leopold stood out the most for his overall play and offensive instincts. It appears time on the farm has restored some of the young defenceman's confidence ... Despite the predictions of body bags for the exhausted Bob Boughner and Toni Lydman, Darryl Sutter chose to dol out his ice time fairly evenly despite the strong existence of youth in his lineup. Toni Lydman played his usual 25:52 of ice, but it was Leopod who logged the second greatest minutes with 24:21 to Boughner's 21:40. Steve Montador logged 18:47, Micki Dupont 16:33 and Mike Mottau 10:31. ... The Saprykin, Gelinas, Drury line led the Flames with the dubious honour of -2 on the night. ... With the win the Ducks leap frogged the Chicago Blackhawks into 8th place in the West. The Hawks actually fell from 7th to 9th as the Avalanche also won against Boston. ... The Ducks, the league leaders in face off percentage, barely got by the Flames with a 29-28 edge on the night. The wily Adam Oates was 13-6 for 68% of is draws. ... Craig Conroy won 11 of his 14 draws for 78%.


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