Flames & Oilers Tie One On 

Flames Gain Point In Every Provincial Contest 

March 9th, 2004

Good enough for one team, not good enough for the other.

For the Calgary Flames, a rare tie pushes them further up the totem pole in the NHL's wild Western Conference, Calgary now alone in sixth place after a 1-1 deadlock with Edmonton at the Saddledome last night in front of the largest crowd of the year, 18,479.

It was the Oilers, continuing their crawling, scratching attempt to weave their way back into the playoff picture, who desperately needed two points out of this game, Edmonton losing ground to eighth place St. Louis and now five points in arrears of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Therein lies the element of history overtaking this game, the Flames even with a draw managing to irritate immeasurably their hated rivals to the north, the result going hand in hand with Calgary picking up a dominating 10 points in the season series between the two teams, Edmonton gaining only three.

"Edmonton beats Calgary all the time," Flames coach Darryl Sutter said prior to the game. "That is the history of the Flames not making the playoffs. So this (year) has been a measuring stick."

With only 13 games left and a five point deficit to climb, the odds are getting long for Edmonton.

"We put ourselves in this situation," said a grim Jason Chimera of the Oilers after the game on FAN960. "It seems we have to win every game from here on in."

In a goaltending duel where the visitors from the north probably held the general edge in play, Miikka Kiprusoff bailed his teammates out again, remarkable at times and merely above average the rest of the way, stopping 30 Edmonton drives in gaining a valuable point for Calgary.

It was the 23rd time in 25 starts Kiprusoff has allowed two and fewer goals, now one of the more remarkable stretches of goaltending - or team defence if you choose - this franchise has likely seen in its history and without a doubt the primary reason a playoff spot is now clearly in view with 13 games remaining.

"I haven't seen a better goaltender right now in the National Hockey League," said Flames assistant coach Rob Cookson flatly of Kiprusoff. "He's lightning quick side to side."

At the other end, the less sensational but no less effective Jussi Markkanen began the process of wiping out the memory of Tommy Salo with a solid 27 save performance, giving Edmonton a point in its fifth straight overtime contest.

The tie leaves Calgary at 34-26-7-3 on the year, good for 77 points and sole possession of sixth place after Nashville lost on home ice earlier in the evening.

The Flames are two points up on eighth place St. Louis and more importantly, four points up on Los Angeles, the ninth place team, although the latter was still playing later in the evening.

"I think it was a playoff atmosphere and probably a little more nerve wracking from a coaching perspective than we would have liked," said assistant coach Rob Cookson of the Flames on FAN960 after the game, Calgary forced to kill a minor penalty in overtime. "I think from a fans perspective they certainly got their money's worth tonight."

The game began as one might expect an Edmonton/Calgary game to start, only :33 seconds in with Krzysztof Oliwa tipping the skates from underneath Jason Smith on an icing call, piling the Oiler defencemen dangerously into the end boards.

In the end to end action through the first 20 minutes, the Oilers largely carried the play to a lethargic Flames team, the former either universally quick or the latter producing the normal heavy legged effort fans have unfortunately come to expect in the first game back from a lengthy road trip.

Only the dazzling brilliance of Kiprusoff, with two remarkable pad saves on a lurking Mike York, kept the Flames closer than they deserved.

The second period featured the Flames picking up some speed but unable to break through Markkanen.

It was only in the final frame that this game began to take shape, newcomer Ville Nieminen with his first as a Flame, out muscling Mike York at the edge of the crease and punching a shot through a startled Markenen to give Calgary a 1-0 edge at 2:33.

But Edmonton kept pressing, taking advantage of a game long plethora of defensive zone and neutral zone giveaways by the home side, Shawn Horcoff picking up an Eric Brewer rebound beside Kiprusoff and slipping it under the helpless Flames goaltender at 9:53.

The game slipped into overtime and the Flames were forced to kill a four on three situation, the penalty killing of Stephane Yelle standing out as well as another steady series of saves by Kiprusoff.

Edmonton was zero for five on the power play and Calgary was zero for four.

Next up in Ottawa on Thursday, the charging Senators a formidable blip on the schedule before the Flames hit the road again.





1) Miikka Kiprusoff - The home side might have had its lights punched out in the first period without him. Lets just say he stole this one in the opening 20 minutes. 

2) Jussi Markkanen - Matched Kiprusoff save for save, including a Jarome Iginla smoking drive in the final moments of regulation time. 

3) Eric Brewer - On the ice all seemingly all the time, two shots, an assist and a rock in front of his net. A long way from the lost soul of earlier in the season.

Pick one of two colossal saves midway through the first period, where Kiprusoff flashed out a right pad twice to deflect away hot drives by York in the Calgary crease.

Raffi Torres was nailed against the boards by Stephane Yelle midway through the third period, a prelude to an after the whistle scrum a few minutes later.

Newest Flame Marcus Nilsson has missed only five games in the last four years. In his Flames debut, he killed penalties, played the power play and logged 18:33 in ice time on a line with Dean McAmmond and Chris Clark. . . . . Jarome Iginla has only six goals on the power play among his 35 total . . . . . . . . Steve Reinprecht and Martin Gelinas missed the game with ongoing injuries. Reinprecht had missed two, played one and then missed the Oil game. . . . . . . Andy Van Hellemond, Chief Poobah of referees in the NHL, was in attendance. . . . . Edmonton entered the game 29th on the power play and 29th on the penalty kill. Why are they out of the playoffs? Edmonton was three for 26 on powerplays in six games with Calgary this year. . . . . .Flames are 2-0-2 in games scoreless after two periods. . . . . . "The first two periods we were all just trying to get speeding tickets," said Nieminen of the game. . . . . . Brewer logged 28:12 in ice time to lead both teams. Jordan Leopold posted 23:08 in ice time to lead Calgary . . . . . No points in 11 games for Dean McAmmond . . . . . Flames were 58% in the faceoff circle led by Yelle at 66%. Oddly, Yelle took only 12 faceoffs while Craig Conroy 29 for a 58% success rate. Is there something wrong with Yelle? He was hurt later in the third period but that wouldn't explain the lopsided faceoff percentages. Jarrett Stoll was 50% for the Oilers. . . . Craig Conroy with a brutal game for listless giveaways, matched closely by McAmmond. But they both had other company as well.

Simon Conroy Iginla 
Nilsson McAmmond Clark 
Neiminen Yelle Donovan 
Oliwa Lombardi Kobasew

Gauthier Warrener 
Ference Lydman 
Regehr Leopold


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