Hot Streak Derails

Flames Out Shoot Wild But Drop Close Contest 

December 9th, 2003
Rick Charlton

Streaks fell like ten pins in Minneapolis last night.

Minnesota Wild weathered a blizzard of Calgary chances in the opening minutes, scored twice in the second then smothered the Flames the rest of the way to garner a narrow but textbook 2-1 victory Tuesday night in Minneapolis.

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

The loss snapped a stretch of 10 straight games (7-0-1-2) where the Flames had secured at least a point while Calgary's Shean Donovan, having scored in six straight, was also denied.

Donovan entered the game tied with Brett Hull of Detroit with the longest goal streak in the NHL this season.

It was less than a week ago Calgary had broken Minnesota's 42-0-4 undefeated stretch when the Wild had been leading after two periods, scoring twice in the third to take a 2-1 decision in Calgary.

The punchless Wild had entered the game last night having scored one or fewer goals in six straight and 10 of its previous 12 games but Minnesota secured a 2-0 edge by the midway point of the game then fell into their numbing, robotic defensive routine, anchored by the 31 save netiminding of Manny Fernandez.

Calgary was attempting to win five straight for the first time since February 1997 but the loss dropped the Flames to 13-9-1-3 on the year, good for 30 points and sixth spot in the NHL's Western Conference.

Flames ate up a precious game in hand on Nashville and San Jose, teams only one point in arrears of Calgary.

The victory was a relief in Minnesota, however, where the Wild had only one win its last eight outings.

"We wanted to come out and take the play to them," Flames Josh Green told FAN960 after the game. "We wanted to come out and play with more intensity than them. We did a good job of that"

"We came close," he added. "The effort was there. We went to the net all night and tried to get traffic there."

But not enough.

Andrei Zyuzin fought off Martin Gelinas, lifting a backhander over Calgary starter Miikka Kiprusoff at 3:28 of the second, the first goal by a Minnesota defender in 17 games.

Pascal Dupuis then padded the Minnesota lead with a power play marker at 12:41, deflecting Zyuzin point shot past Kiiprusoff for the eventual game winner.

Gelinas gave the Flames a pulse at 15:28 of the third, sweeping a loose puck on the backhand behind Fernandez to bring the Flames within one.

But a final flurry of chances couldn't get the job done for the Flames.

It was only the second time in eight starts Kiiprusoff had allowed more than one goal, this night facing 19 shots.

Flames fall under .500 on the road at 4-5-0-2 and have still played four fewer games away from the Saddledome than they have at home.

Flames were zero for five on the power play while the Wild scored once in once in four opportunities, effectively the difference in the game.

Flames return to Calgary for a game with the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.





1) Manny Fernandez - Calgary blitzed early but Fernandez held the Flames at bay, allowing Minnesota to get a lead they never relinquished.

2) Andrei Zyuzin - Talented but enigmatic rearguard was "on" this night with a goal, an assist and dangerous whenever he was on the ice. 

3) Martin Gelinas - One of the better Flames on the night also scores a goal in his 1000th game.

Late in the third period, Fernandez was challenged on the backhand by the hot Shean Donovan but held the lead with a big save.

It was the 1000th game of Martin Gelinas career. His goal marked his eighth point in his last five games. . . . . . The Marion Gaborik funk continued, the early season holdout with only a goal and an assist in his last nine games. . . . . . Krzysztof Oliwa and Matt Johnson fought for the third time this season. . . . . Jordan Leopold led the Flames with 23:59 in ice time while Nick Schultz of the Wild logged a nearly identical 23:56 . . . . . Sergei Zholtok was 70% in the faceoff circle for the Wild was 77% for the Flames, who otherwise finished at only 48% as a group, one of the few times this year they were under the breakeven mark.

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