Not Again!

Flames Embark On Third Goal Slump of Season

December 21st, 2002
Rick Charlton

AP Photo

Whoops: Flame goalie Roman Turek watches as the Penguins second goal slips by him.

It was an irresistible force clashing with an immoveable object, two teams fighting lengthy strings of futility and something obviously having to give way.

Pittsburgh Penguins avoided tying a club record of 11 straight losses with a 2-0 victory over the Flames last night, the win having the unfortunate effect of simultaneously extending Calgary's remarkable string of having failed to secure a triumph at the Igloo since February 12, 1989.

Calgary's promising start to this five game road trip, a tie and a win in Vancouver and Nashville, has taken a turn for the worst, the Flames now shutout victims in Columbus and Pittsburgh, the latter the 28th ranked defensive team in the NHL.

Flames have won just four of their last 21 games and remain mired in 14th place in the NHL's Western Conference, eleven points behind Anaheim for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Eleven points? Is it too early to declare the season over? It might not be.

Calgary is now on track to make a third attempt (one successful) in the first three months of this season to exceed a team record for consecutive minutes without a goal.

Flames haven't scored since Craig Conroy's marker at 5:59 of the second period against Nashville, a string of mediocrity stretching 154 minutes and one second and the shutout defeat, the eighth against them this season, ties a franchise record. Calgary had been shutout eight times in the last two prior seasons as well, but this one came in only the 34th game of the year.

This latest loss, leaving the Flames at 9-17-5-3 on the year, also takes a bit of the bloom off the rose of grandfatherly interim coach Al MacNeil, now 3-4-1 as bench boss but his team starting to disappear under the same flotsam and jetsam that is the only reminder of the torpedo of mediocrity that sank his predecessor, Greg Gilbert.

Now would be a good moment to remind readers Gilbert was gassed more than two weeks ago with no replacement in sight.

This was another emotionless affair with the Flames looking like a team playing out the string with 48 left to play.

Jarome Iginla played his second consecutive game after missing five straight with an injury but was largely ineffective, stuck at six goals in 29 games and a shadow of the dominating presence he was last year.

Mario Lemieux now has 61 points in 25 career games against the Flames after collecting an assist on Pittsburgh's second goal and the Penguin superstar/owner leads the NHL in scoring with 56 points, with 34 of those picked up on the NHL's number one ranked power play.

Pittsburgh has lived and died with its power play this year, 45 of their 91 goals scored with the man advantage and they didn't disappoint this night, scoring twice while the Flames were penalized.

Steve McKenna picked up his first point of the season at 17:43 of the first, picking up a hard cross-ice pass from Milan Kraft and rocketing a shot top shelf past Calgary starter Roman Turek.

Martin Straka added to the lead at 13:48 of the second, redirecting an Alexei Kovalev point shot past Turek.

Calgary failed to score for the 18th consecutive powerplay, going zero for four with the man advantage.

Flames outshot the Pens 23-20 on the night.

Next up is a trip to Minneapolis to play the Wild on Monday.



Penguins Pittsburgh Penguins 2
Calgary Flames 0

Saprykin Drury Iginla
Gelinas Conroy Nichol
Yelle Johansson Clark
Berube Sloan Kohn
Lydman Regehr
Montador Gauthier
Leopold Boughner

1) Johann Hedberg - The goalie traditionally gets the first star in a shutout win but Hedberg had to be merely error-free in this one, threatened only periodically by the Flames. 

2) Alexei Kovalev - two assists and dangerous all night. 

3) Wayne Primeau - Probably the best player on the ice for both teams, involved both physically and emotionally.

Trailing 2-0 in the third period, Mario Lemieux sprang Jan Hrdina loose on a clear breakaway but Turek closed the door to at least give his team an illusion of a chance.

Bob Boughner tried to rally the troops early in the second period with a thundering takedown of Dan Ladouceur at the Pittsburgh blueline.

Blake Sloan hasn't scored in 50 straight games . . . . .Calgary's longest drought in an opposing rink occurred between 1982 and 1986 when the went winless in 18 straight in Edmonton. . . . . . Roman Turek has started 13 straight . . . . . . Make sure something goes right for you this lamentable season by remembering to get your orders in for your hats!! . . . . . Toni Lydman led the Flames with 25:24 in ice time while Lemieux (hey, he owns the team!!) put up 22:22 in ice time to lead the Pens . . . . . . Flames were 52% in the faceoff circle, led by Craig Conroy at 73%. Milan Kraft was 83% for the Pens. . . . . .
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