Two In Row At the Dome 

Flame Edge Outdoor Bound Habs

November 20th, 2003
Rick Charlton

Grind, grind, grind.

Two of the more offensively challenged teams in the NHL strutted their stuff at the Saddledome last night, Montreal and Calgary entering this contest barely able to score two goals per side.

While the Flames managed to fill their usual quota, the Canadiens came up one short, the result being a 2-1 Calgary victory, its second in a row on Saddledome ice over an Original Six team.

McAmmond Reinprecht Iginla
Saprykin Lombardi Clark
Gelinas Conroy Donovan
Oliwa Betts Kobasew
Regehr Leopold
Gauthier Warrener
Ference Lydman

Martin Gelinas returned to the lineup to score on a Jordan Leopold rebound with only 1:14 remaining, giving newcomer Miikko Kiprusoff his first win in a Calgary uniform.

Kiprusoff was solid and at times brilliant, particularly in the final minute with the Canadiens buzzing to generate the equalizer.

While his counterpart Jamie McLennan, filling in for the acknowledged number one Roman Turek, is among the NHL's leaders in wins and goals against average, there is an oft-repeated observation that he has not been the equal of Calgary's otherwise impeccable defensive efforts this year.

While Kiprusoff didn't steal this game - the Flames essentially controlling the play from the second period onward - there were occasional opportunities for him to lose it.

He proved equal to the challenge.

"I felt pretty good," said Kiprusoff on FAN960 of his first start of the season after riding the pine in San Jose. "I was jumping around more than I usually would. We won the game though so that was good."

The victory evens Calgary's record at 8-8-0-2, giving them 18 points on the season and, temporarily at least pending other results, leaving them in a tie for ninth place in the NHL's Western Conference.

Flames outshot Montreal 32-23 on the night with Canadiens Jose Theodore keeping this one close through to the final minute.

Calgary has limited opponents to barely 21 shots on average this year, leading the NHL in that category.

It's been painfully obvious these last few years that the Flames would go nowhere until they at least improved play in their own zone.

Now among the better defensive clubs in the league, Calgary is beginning to close out games they might have otherwise lost in previous seasons.

Craig Rivet opened the scoring for Montreal at 15:02 of the first on a five minute power play, taking a behind the net pass from Yanic Perrault and catching Kiprusoff anticipating the play heading in a different direction.

But Calgary's big line of Steve Reinprecht, Jarome Iginla and Dean McAmmond quickly brought the game even, Reinprecht finding a gaping empty net at 19:07 of the first period after a fine effort by Jarome Iginla.

The two teams traded occasional opportunities from there, the balance favouring Calgary, but this one looked like it might be grinding down to overtime before Gelinas abruptly put the Flames ahead with a late goal.

The winner came from "the best line we had by a country mile" according to Flames assistant coach Rich Preston, identifying Craig Conroy, Shean Donovan and Gelinas.

It was the second game in a row, in the absence of injured Stephane Yelle, that Conroy had been deployed in the third line checking role.

If you know anything about Darryl Sutter, moving Conroy from the first line to the third may not have been a demotion as Sutter has long identified, both here and in San Jose, his checking line as the most important arrow in his quiver.

While Conroy has struggled offensively this year, the checking role is a familiar one for him given his career history.

The Canadiens had opportunities to tie in one brief flurry but Kiprusoff was equal to the task.

The fight card had Chris Clark tangling with Rivet in the opening moments and Darryl Langdon seeking retribution from Krzysztof Oliwa after the latter drew blood with a high stick.

Flames were zero for four on the power play while the Canadiens scored once in four opportunities.

Next up is Chicago at the Dome on Saturday night as the Flames continue with the third contest in their six game homestand.

Attendance was a disappointing 16,139, not bad for a weeknight but less than the Flames might have wanted for the Canadiens who are traditionally a tough ticket in this town.





1) Jose Theodore - Sharp Montreal goaltender kept this one closer than it should have been. 

2) Mikka Kiprusoff - Solid with periodic dazzling saves bodes well for his future in a Calgary uniform. 

3) Shean Donovan - didn't appear on the scoresheet but someone has to acknowledge his contributions all over the ice.

A quick snapshot from Jarome Iginla with 10 minutes remaining is snagged by the darting glove hand of Theodore, preserving a 1-1 tie.

Canadiens entered the game with only one power play goal in their previous 28 chances but scored once in four chances against Calgary . . . . . "When we've used him properly, he's done a good job for us. When we haven't, he's struggled." - Darryl Sutter on Jamie McLennan's season, an interesting analysis where he places the blame, essentially, on himself for McLennan's shortcomings. . . . . .Calgary is the first team in the NHL to use four goaltenders this season . . . . . Jose Theodore entered the game undefeated in his four career starts against Calgary. . . . . . Leopold led the Flames in ice time at 21:41 while Andre Markov was at 25:26. . . . . .Flames were 56% in the faceoff circle with McAmmond and Reinprecht at 83% and 80% respectively. . . . . .Yanic Perrault, one of the great faceoff artists in the NHL, was 58% for the Canadiens. . . . . Oliwa received a match penalty for drawing blood on Langdon, severe enough of an infraction to draw an automatic review for a possible suspension.

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