Flames Fall to Trap

Woeful Offence Fires Another Blank in Swamp

February 22nd, 2004

No shots, no goals, no chance.

After winning four straight out of the gate from the All-Star break, the Calgary Flames have managed only three goals in their last three starts, losing all of them as they continue to flounder on their foray along the east coast, the latest setback a 3-1 loss to the Devils in front of 17,733 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Nothing could have been more emblematic of this recent, although brief, stretch of futility for the Flames than the five minute powerplay granted Calgary in the second period after New Jersey's Colin White was given a five minute major and game misconduct for trying to decapitate Calgary's Denis Gauthier.

Rather than making New Jersey pay for their foul indiscretion, the Flames were instead outshot 5-0 and appeared back on their heels at various times as the undermanned Devils repeatedly struck at beleaguered Calgary starter Miikka Kiprusoff.

As is usual in these events, shortly after the Devils had successfully killed White's debilitating penalty, Flames defenceman Andrew Ference worked himself further into coach Darryl Sutter's doghouse by giving the hot Patrik Elias a free pass in front of the Calgary net just as the New Jersey winger tapped an easy one timer past Calgary starter Miikka Kiprusoff for the eventual game winner at 16:06 of the second.

"They took it to us (on the powerplay), said Flames Craig Conroy on FAN960. "It looked like they were on the powerplay.. Momentum wise it was big for them and they took advantage of it."

It was also the second straight game that Calgary's Jarome Iginla had failed to score, the uber-winger being the lone bright spot in Calgary's offence of late but even that light now being firmly extinguished leaving the Flames floundering with an alarming number of teams closing in on them from behind, including ninth place Los Angeles only one point in the rear view mirror.

"Every game just one goal . . . . that's not gonna cut it, " said Conroy of Calgary's anemic offensive effort, Calgary generating only 19 shots on the day, the fourth straight game Flames have generated 20 or fewer shots.

The loss drops Calgary to 30-23-5-3 on the year, mired at 68 points and stuck in sixth place in the NHL's packed Western Conference. Calgary could drop to eighth by the end of the day pending results for Dallas and St. Louis.

Calgary had opened the season 9-1 against the Eastern Conference but has since gone 1-5-1 including dropping three straight.

For the Flames, the lack of scoring has been a waste of some supreme goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff and yes, Roman Turek, both giving Calgary ample opportunity to win on this road trip in spite of being broadly outplayed in all three of their latest losses.

While this figured to be a tough spot in Calgary's schedule, perhaps the toughest of the year, there isn't any respite ahead as the Flames travel to Colorado for a game Tuesday then return home for a match with Detroit on Thursday.

New Jersey dominated the opening period and opened the game with Patrik Elias from near the blueline banking a shot off the post and behind Kiprusoff at 4:48.

Flames tied the game on a borderline offside call on a powerplay at 5:09 of the second, Toni Lydman cradling the puck on the blueline then charging hard at the Jersey net. His rebound emerged from a scrum onto the stick of Chuck Kobasew, parked in front of Devils starter Martin Brodeur who was unable to stop the resulting quick shot near the post.

Turner Stevensen scored an empty net goal in the dying seconds for New Jersey.

Flames were one for three on the power play and New Jersey failed to score on their sole chance with the man advantage.

New Jersey managed 27 shots at the Calgary net.

Next up is Colorado on Tuesday, the latest must win game of the season and, undoubtedly, not the last.





1 Patrik Elias - One of the great players in the game, even if his stats are suppressed in the system of the defence first Devils. His two goals did the Flames in.

2 Miikka Kiprusoff - A rock in the Calgary net, the 19th time in 21 starts this year in which he has allowed two or fewer goals, which is pretty much all you can ask of a goaltender in the NHL.

3 Scott Niedermayer - Picking up slack from the injured Scott Stevens, logging 28:24 in ice time, picking up two assists and pressing the Flames from the back end all afternoon.

Turner Stevensen was guided forcibly into the boards . . . . . and the stanchion at the players bench by Rhett Warrener in the second period, the huge Devils winger stopping as suddenly as though he'd hit a brick wall.

In the dying seconds of the second period, Kiprusoff flashed his right pad out to stop a Paul Martin one-timer that would have likely put the game away for New Jersey had it gone in.

Jarome Iginla's second period marker in Montreal made him the seventh Flames player to have four 30-goal seasons. Theo Fleury, Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, Haken Loob, Joe Mullen and Kent Nilsson are the others . . . . . . Martin Brodeur could finish with 70 or more appearances for seven straight seasons, tying him with Glenn Hall in the NHL record book. . . . . . Jordan Leopold led the Flames with 23:26 in ice time while Niedermayer finished at 28:24 for New Jersey. . . . . Flames were 51% in the faceoff circle, led by Matthew Lombardi's 54%. . . . . Gomez was 56% for the Devils. . . . . . . Flames are 2-3 in afternoon games this year . . . "It was a fun game to watch, huh? It had everything: goals, fighting, cross-checks, spears, penalties." - Sergei Zholtok with the Quote Of The Week, speaking after Minnesota's 6-2 win over Vancouver.

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