Flames Hang On to Win Sloppy One

Returning Kiprusoff and Late Offence Leads the Way

February 10th, 2004

It took the Calgary Flames all of two minutes to discover that goaltending alone was not the sole ingredient missing from their winning ways of December.

In a game all important for a club in a four team death match for three playoff spots the home squad was disorganized, lethargic and somewhat despondent in a sloppy 5-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers.

The first period started roughly twenty minutes early for the Calgary Flames as the Thrashers, and specifically their young star Illya Kovalchuk, dined on Calgary miscue after miscue to score twice and take a 2-1 first period lead.

First Kovalchuk cruised into the slot and took a left alone rebound from the slot and beat Miikka Kiprusoff despite a maze of Flame defenders on the scene merely watching.

Dean McAmmond tied the affair when some patented Shean Donovan hustle to leap on a wide open net opportunity and notch the score. 

With a handful of minutes left in the period the Flames took back to back penalties for high sticking - first Craig Conroy with a double minor then Rhett Warrener with a single minor - to give the Thrashers a two man advantage to close out the period.

Kovalchuk lit the red light for the second time in the period when he took a cross ice feed from Dany Heatley and blasted the puck through Kiprusoff's pads.

Kiprussoff, used to a mere 20 shots a night when he last tended goal for the Flames, faced 12 first period shots. The Thrashers would only come up with 13 more, the rest of the way.

The Flames regained some of their steam in the second period, taking a measure more of the play to the visitors and were rewarded when Matthew Lombardi finished off a dandy three way passing play to score his 12th of the season.

Chris Clark shot the puck into the Thrasher zone to an awaiting Steven Reinprecht who directed the puck back to Clark behind the Atlanta cage. Clark found Lombardi all alone off to the side of the net and he beat Atlanta stopper Passi Nurminen short side.

The Saddledome crowd finished the last half of the second period blasting Kovalchuk with raspberries every time he touched the puck. The young hot shot winger gave the patrons a hint of over reaction by laying on the ice on two occasions through two periods to attempt to draw penalties.

The Flames were lucky early in the third period when they managed to escape some rather tense moments in their own zone, including a 90 minute stretch when Robyn Regehr broke his stick, but hung in long enough to let the offence take over.

Dean McAmmond scored his second of the game when he found a loose puck off of Jarome Iginla's skate and wristed one past Nurminen.

A few minutes later the Flames salted things away when Iginla himself scored, finishing off a great cycle shift with linemates Oleg Saprykin and Craig Conroy by lifting a great backhander past Nurminen.

The win allows one to gloss over another sketchy effort by the Flames, and another game where their special teams could of let them down.

The Flames were zero for five on the powerplay for the second straight game, but that doesn't even begin to explain how uphill the man advantage battle appeared. The club literally didn't have a chance up a player, but did manage a goal, McAmmond's second, a dozen seconds after a penalty expired.

The Flames head off to Vancouver for another game tomorrow night, their first of five back to back occasions to play out the schedule.





1 Dean McAmmond - Two key goals in the first half of the game gave the team some life. 

2 Illya Kovalchuk - Annoying? yes, but offensively destructive as well, scores twice in the first period. 

3 Shean Donovan - His speed and tenacity lead to the Flames first goal, was in and around the net all night. Is this guy for real?

Miikka Kiprusoff was one part solid and two parts lucky in keeping the puck out of the net in a mad first period goal mouth scramble. He stoned Heatley and then flopped to foil Shean McEachern and others on the rebound.

Shades of Jamie Macoun on Dale Hawerchuk in the 80's, Denis Gauthier caught a jumping Illya Kovalchuk in the ribs with a stick in the second period. Replays may have hinted at a slight over reaction on the part of the fallen Russian.

The Calgary Flames powerplay is suffering a serious crisis of confidence. They can't get the puck in and when they do they make panicky moves with the puck and effectively shut themselves down. Sutter had tried everything and everyone including defenceman Mike Commodore on the PP, but nothing seems to work. ... Speaking of Commodore, the big defender left the game midway through the second period when former Flame Ron Petrovicky drilled him into the boards. Looks like a shoulder injury. ... Bad calls happen in a game, but nothing sticks in my craw more than a referee missing the "spirit" of a play. In the second, Petrovicky took a few extra whacks at Kiprusoff causing a scrum with a few Flames removing him from the scene. Petrovicky chose Iginla to spar with to take the Flame scorer off the ice with him, which created Robyn Regehr coming in to remove the pesky forward. Regehr got the extra roughing penalty. Silly. ... The last half of this game gives one the feeling the Flames may regain some of that form with Miikka Kiprusoff back in net. In reality he played no better than Roman Turek did against the Blues last Thursday but the team itself seemed to have more jump. ... The win puts the Flames into 6th spot in the west, tied with the Kings but ahead on win count. The Predators sit 8th and the Blues 9th. The Kings won tonight, the Blues lost, and the Predators didn't play. ... Buckle your seatbelt, 27 more to go!

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