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Big Players Play Big in Big Big Win
Flames 3 Wild 2

D'Arcy McGrath
March 19, 2006

A Rembrandt or a scribble, I don't think a single member of the Calgary Flame traveling crew could care less.

Just get the damn win.

A night after a shellacking in Music Town left the Flames in a tough spot on a long road trip, nobody would be searching out style points if the squad could win in Minnesota in the second night of back to back weekend games.

They did just that, in typically ugly fashion turning back the Minnesota Wild by a score of 3-2 on the strength of the club's top line and the league's top goaltender.

Mission accomplished.

On The Line

A point after two road games on a long trip isn't a bad situation if you win that third one. Drop it and you have a little panic with a hole starting to be dug and a long way to go on a seven game marathon. Add in the movement behind the team in the Wild Wild Western Conference standings, and clearly everything was on the line in this one. 

The Flow

The Flames owned the game's first ten minutes and could have had more than the Daymond Langkow four on four goal to show for it but for Manny Fernandez. The next thirty minutes featured a run of Calgary penalties that had the flow zapped from their five on five pressure game, and Miikka Kiprusoff needing to hold the fort. Calgary found a way to score twice more in the third to find the win.

Three Stars

1 Miikka Kiprusoff. His solid play in the nets was a calming influence on a team doubting itself after a horrific night in front of back up Brian Boucher in Nashville a night before. Gave up two, but was solid in stopping 37 shots.

2 Kristian Huselius.  Like his linemates Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow, Huselius finished the night with a goal and an assist. His two points both came in the third period however, including the game winner with just over five minutes to play on a one timer from Iginla.

3 Manny Fernandez.  Calgary's four less powerplays assured about ten less saves on the night for the stopper at the other end, but Fernandez was equally as solid when called upon.

Big Hit

This game featured a host of great body checks including Dion Phaneuf on Mike Robitaille in the game's opening moments, and Derek Boogard on Roman Hamrlik in the second, but the hit of the night was when the two towers came together standing each other up with Phaneuf finally hitting the ice.

Big Save

I'll let the two masked men share this one with equally as gut wrenching last ditch desperation plays in the second period. First Kiprusoff reached behind him with his paddle to sweep away the rolling rebound of a Mike Robitaille shot, and then a few minutes later Fernandez took a puck off the post off his skate and then dove back to get his blocker hand on the puck before it danced across the line.

The Goat

The Calgary transition. Too many times on this night the Flames got themselves hemmed up in their own zone and just couldn't get the puck out creating the inevitable penalty and more pressure from the Wild. Kiprusoff would pass the puck away from a defenceman, the forwards didn't support and the ever changing bottom two defence pairings still seem out of tune.

Mr. Clutch

The top line. Since I couldn't name all three guys in the stars, I'll give them a collective round of applause in this category. After failing to win in their first two stops on this trip the big line stepped up big in scoring all three goals on the night (one apiece) and making a statement.

Odds and Ends

Nobody can get in on opposing forwards as quickly as Shean Donovan, he's a real asset to the Flames pressure forecheck game. However, he has to stop hooking and taking putting his mitts on other players when he loses the puck. An ugly penalty water skiing in Edmonton and three more tonight, could have cost his club the game. ... The Flames had a closed door 45 minute meeting in Minnesota before the game in attempt to settle things down after getting clobbered by the Predators ... Jordan Leopold's first penalty was for tripping. On the play two players both moved laterally with the guy in red and green stepping on Leopold's stick as they both moved toward the corner. I understand the idea that you call everything in the new NHL, but if it no foul was ever intended is it really a trip? ... Despite being brilliant in stopping the puck on the night, Kiprusoff had somewhat of a hell raiser when it came to playing it. Too many laissez faire last second one handed pass offs to defencemen that either came to close to being intercepted or were off the mark. ... Had to chuckle at Wes Walz celebrating and then arguing a puck was in the net when it hit his stick blade and went straight into the corner. Just odd. ... Anyone else wonder if history was repeating itself with a minute left and Hamrlik's busted stick lying at center ice? I know I did. ... The Flames won 55% of the face offs on the night, led by Jarome Iginla (62%) and Darren McCarty (100%).... If you believe 96 points is the target to secure a playoff spot, then the Flames now need 12 points or six wins in 15 games to get back to the dance. That boils down to a record similar to 6-9-0. Shouldn't be a problem. A team like the Canucks will need to find 18 points in 14 games which looks a little more challenging when you see it in the form of 9-5-0. Now add to that the fact that the Canucks currently trail the Detroit Red Wings in the first period and then have three straight against a hungry Oiler team. Yikes. ... Forget all the talk about .500 trips and road success. The Flames left on this trip with a two point lead on the Avalanche and three games in hand. After tonight's win and the Avalanche regulation loss in San Jose you have a four point lead and a game in hand. Trip is almost half over and they've added to their lead in their division. 

Next up Tomorrow in Minnesota and a chance to erase this one.

Lines -

Huselius - Langkow - Iginla

McCarty - Nilson - Donovan

Amonte - Yelle - McCarty

Simon - Lombardi - Kobasew

Regehr - Leopold
Phaneuf - Hamrlik



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