The Streak Is Over!

Roman Turek Carries the Flames to Win

November 23rd, 2002
Rick Charlton

AP Photo

3 Goals!: Chris Clark, Denis Gauthier and Chuck Kobasew (above) all lit the lamp.

Denis Gauthier put all the frustration of himself and his teammates behind a third period rocket that finally broke the two goal barrier his Flames hadn't been able to crack for the previous seven games.

The Flames defenceman, the chief spokesman for his beleagured mates during this epic nosedive, practically drove a Craig Conroy pass straight through Chicago starter Jocelyn Thibault at 9:26 of the third period last night.

It was the first time in eight games Calgary had scored more than one goal.

Gauthier's bullet also proved to be the winning marker as the Flames snapped an epic and bizarre seven game losing streak with a 3-1 win over Chicago, finishing an otherwise disastrous five game home stand on a positive note.

The win leaves Calgary at 6-9-3-3 on the season, with 18 points and in a tie for 12th place in the NHL's Western Conference.

Calgary is four points out of a playoff spot after being fourth in the West only 17 days ago.

Scoring was THE problem these nightmarish last three weeks and it didn't look like things would be much different last night until Gauthier's goal finally broke the ice mid-way through the third period.

Craig Berube, the last man of his unit still on the ice, did yeoman work behind the net to finally spring the puck loose to Conroy who took little time sliding a perfect pass to Gauthier, pinching in from the point.

Alexei Zhamnov opened scoring at 6:10 of the first period when Steve Sullivan slithered past a Flames defenceman on the right boards and fed a cross-ice pass to a trailing Zhamnov for an easy open net marker.

But Chris Clark, powering into the Chicago zone on his off-wing, did his best Mark Messier imitation with a wrister through Thibault's legs at 13:22 to tie the game.

While Flames were probably the better team in the first period, highlighted by Chuck Kobasew's one timer that boinked straight off the post just before Zhamnov's goal, Chicago gradually took over from there, pumping 14 shots at Flames starter Roman Turek in the second period. "Large," making his first start since a home ice 3-0 win over Buffalo three weeks ago, was rock solid, foiling the Hawks at every opportunity.

Kobasew, with his fifth of the season, put the game out of reach when he found a Chris Drury rebound and managed to get a quick snapshot away in the slot just as his stick was breaking in half at 11:26 of the third.

One wonders what might have happened to Flames head coach Greg Gilbert if the Flames hadn't managed to win this one but the bizarre set of circumstances that led to seven losses in a row may have been staying the hand of GM Craig Button.

When examined closely, this last ten game stretch may have been the best the Flames have played defensively in many seasons, having surrendered two or fewer goals in all but one game.

During the string, Calgary, minus two empty net markers, posted a team goals against average of 2.00 and rose from 23rd defensively in the league to 14th.

Calgary's penalty kill, stopping five Chicago advantages last night, has also risen from the bottom third of the league before this streak began, to 15th overall.

But where were the goals? The 30th ranked powerplay in the NHL was certainly on hand last night, going zero for two on the night.

Jarome Iginla looked quicker in this one, sharper, but the big bucks demand big results and they continue to elude the Flames resident superstar, now with only one goal in his last eleven games and only four on the season, a pace of 16 for the year. He had four shots on the night.

Turek faced 33 shots on the night to 19 for Thibault.

Next up is an ominous five game road trip, with Boston first on the agenda. Calgary plays 11 of the next 14, heading into Christmas, on the road.



Calgary Flames 3
Chicago Blackhawks 1

Niedermayer Conroy Iginla
Gelinas Drury Kobasew
Sloan Yelle Clark
Nichol Johansson Berube
Lydman Regehr
Montador Gauthier
Buzek Leopold

1 Roman Turek - The saves were great, but was also very active handling the puck, much more so than his ill-fated battery mate Jamie McLennan and that may have been an important factor throughout the game. 

2 Steve Sullivan - If the Hawks had won, he would have been the hero with numerous chances all night. 

3 Robyn Regehr - The dominating defenceman of the night, throwing around Steve Thomas like a doll in the second period and otherwise playing a solid game.

Six foot three inch Boris Mironov had to nearly touch his nose to the ice to get low enough but when he did with a classic hip check, 5'7" Scott Nichol went soaring through the air like one of The Flying Wazoo Brothers.

Sullivan was sprung free on a breakaway with only two and a half minutes remaining but Turek managed to extend a toe to cover the post where the Chicago forward had placed the puck.

Out with Wendy's and in with an in-house barbecue pit at the Saddledome. . . . . . . You'd think a team in the midst of a seven game losing streak would hear a few boos, particularly after letting Chicago round-house them in a severely tilted second period, but such was not the case last night. Except for Rob Niedermayer. . . . . . . After Chuck Kobasew scored Calgary's third goal, did we actually spy Brian Sutter with a bit of a smile on his face behind the Hawks bench? Perhaps thinking of his coaching brethren Greg Gilbert with a noose being removed from his neck. Or maybe we imagined the whole thing with Chicago losing its third in a row . . . . . . Rookie Tyler Arnason was 69% in the faceoff circle to lead the Hawks to an overall percentage of 53%. Chris Drury was 57% for the Flames. . . . . Toni Lydman, as he usually does, led the Flames with 22:27 in ice time while Phil Housley posted 24:25. . . . . . The fight card had Berube tangling with Jason Strudwick in the first period.
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