Late Rally Continues Streak

Iginla Scores Last Minute Goal To Cinch Win 

December 5th, 2003
Rick Charlton

It was the unrelenting monotony that would have dropped you.

The predictability.

For the 14,669 fans at the Saddledome watching this bore fest, it would have been an easy call to fold up their tents and get an early start home.

McAmmond Yelle Iginla
Gelinas Conroy Donovan
Saprykin Lombardi Clark
Oliwa Morgan Lowry
Regehr Leopold
Gauthier Warrener
Montador Ference

The knowledge the Wild were 43-0-4 the last 47 times they held a lead entering the third period is about as sure a bet as it gets.

But the unstoppable Shean Donovan, the unlikeliest of heroes, demonstrated great strength in backhanding a shot around Manny Fernandez to knot the score at 1-1 at 1:43 of the third period, his sixth goal in his last five games.

That set the stage for the suddenly hot Jarome Iginla, taking advantage of a terrible Minnesota icing attempt, leaving the Wild changing lines as Oleg Saprykin bolted for the net, the play finished by the Flames captain for the win with only 22 seconds remaining in the third period.

"Another thriller at the Dome," the description from Flames play-by-play man Peter Maher, was a gross overstatement for the first 42 minutes of this monument to critics of the game, but the final, stunning outcome, slaying Minnesota's lengthy streak at the same time, made the cost of a ticket at least a break-even proposition.

Iginla credited the shift prior to his (Conroy, Gelinas, Donovan) for hemming the Wild in and leaving the Wild players trapped, tired and anxious for a change, setting up Saprykin halting an attempted icing and leading to the winning goal as the Minnesota opposition magically disappeared.

It was Iginla's fourth goal in his last three games, signaling his long, long cool streak may finally be over.

Iginla now has 11 points in his last eight games.

As to Donovan, a career single digit scorer, these are the best days of his life, a period of unconscious play that has seen him in an improbable blow by blow race with Iginla for the Flames scoring derby, both now with eight markers this season.

"We want to be in a playoff spot but there's so long left that we really can't look at that," Iginla told FAN960 after the game, adding the Flames are looking at their schedule one challenge at a time.

"We knew coming in that Calgary was playing very well," analyzed a despondent Richard Park of the Wild after the game. "They kept coming and coming and they got a few good bounces."

The victory left the Flames at 12-8-1-3 on the season, good for 28 points, lifting Calgary into a sixth place tie in the NHL's Western Conference with idle Los Angeles.

Calgary has a game in hand on the Kings and a game in hand on Nashville, the latter one point ahead of the Flames.

The victory capped a perfect night of scoreboard watching, the Flames dousing the Wild in Minnesota in regulation time while advancing further up on Phoenix and Anaheim, both with 25 points and both losers earlier in the night. Calgary has two and three games in hand respectively on the Coyotes and Ducks.

It was the ninth consecutive game the Flames had secured at least a single point.

Pascal Dupuis opened scoring on Minnesota's first shot of the game at 1:54 of the first but Calgary starter Miikka Kiprusoff stopped everything else after that, finishing with 22 saves.

Kiprusoff has made six starts for Calgary since being acquired last month from San Jose, surrendering only one goal in five of those games and generating a 5-0-0-1 record.

Fernandez was busier with 31 Flames shots directed his way.

Both teams failed to score on three power play opportunities.

Next up for the Flames is the rudderless Pittsburgh Penguins, probably minus Mario Lemieux.






1 Manny Fernandez - He almost pulled it off but, in the end, was abandoned at the wrong time by his teammates.

2 Shean Donovan - Closing in on Kent Nilsson and Gary Roberts who hold the Flames record for scoring in consecutive games (eight).

3 The Fans - The courage required to stick with this game through two and a half periods then muster from a deep slumber to rally the troops can't be overlooked. "We were feeding off the crowd (in the third period)," said Iginla.

It was an O'Henry sandwich with Alex Henry as the meat when Dave Lowry and Krzysztof Oliwa crashed the unfortunate Wild defenceman in the second period.

A hot point shot from Rhett Warrener in the first period was deflected by Iginla but Fernandez stunned the crowd by getting an arm on the puck.

Craig Conroy, the unsung orchestra leader behind Donovan's goal scoring heroics, extended his point streak to five games . . . . Chuck Kobasew was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. . . . . Oliwa and Matt Johnson fought briefly early in the first period, only two minutes into the game. . . . . Flames were 48% in the faceoff circle through two periods but ended up at 55% in the end, led by Stephane Yelle's 65%. Jim Dowd was 50% for the Wild. . . . . . Robyn Regehr led the Flames with 26:15 in ice time while Iginla had 22:11 to lead Flames forwards. Nick Schultz led the Wild with 24:20.

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