April 03 2011 09:17PM
Picture perfect wins aren't what the Calgary Flames need, they just need the two points if they're going to have any chance at the postseason. Thanks in large part to Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary was able to take a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche and make sure mathematically they weren't going to be eliminated from the playoff picture. Combining the Calgary win with a Chicago loss, and the Flames sit just one point back of a playoff spot with just two games to go.
Not a whole lot to write home about in the first period, as you could tell the Avalanche were at the very least going to be competitive on the night. Peter Budaj made a couple big stops in the first and the Avs had chances of their own, but it was scoreless after 20.
The second period was an odd one, because Colorado was markedly the better team, but the Flames had a one goal lead after 40. With the Avalanche coming out WAY in front of the scoring chances by a 15-6 count, it was the Flames opening the scoring at the 10:23 mark on a bit of a broken play. With Alex Tanguay gaining the puck behind the net, he was able to thread a pass to Olli Jokinen all alone in the slot; Jokinen put home his 17th of the season for a 1-0 Calgary lead. Kiprusoff was very, very good in the second period, making a number of large stops to help the Flames keep the lead heading into the third period.
After not a very strong second frame, and not a very strong opening 40 minutes, Calgary was able to lock things down a little more in the third period, limiting the Avalanche to seven shots on goal and taking a two goal lead at 8:13. With Jarome Iginla winning a puck battle, the captain would eventually feed Tanguay just under the right circle, and Tanguay would hit the water bottle for his 21st and a 2-0 Flames lead. Milan Hejduk put home his 21st with five minutes to go, which made for a frantic finish, but Calgary would close it out and take a much needed 2-1 win.
One Good Reason...
...this is the first time I can remember this season, but the reason why Calgary won tonight was Miikka Kiprusoff. He made some huge stops in the first 40 minutes, and when the Flames were better defensively in the third period, Kiprusoff still made the stops when the Avs earned their chances. Erik Johnson's shot right off a clean faceoff win was one that comes to mind immediatlely in the third period, and Kiprusoff was eager to accept the challenge. He was very good.
The aforementioned Kiprusoff gets the nod. He hasn't been among the NHL's elite goaltenders this season, but he was very, very good on this night. In a game where the team wasn't very good in front of him, Calgary's goaltender came to play and they needed it.
Sum It Up
I guess it's a somewhat positive outlook for the Flames following their win, as they got help out of town. The game that really helped was Chicago's 2-0 loss to Tampa, and while Dallas's 4-3 win over Anaheim hurts in one sense, at the very least it wasn't a three point game.
Elimination Number: 1.5
Just like this game, Wednesday's Flames-Oilers tilt at the 'Dome is one where Calgary has no excuse not to come out with two points. Saturday's Vancouver game is a different story. The most important thing about Calgary's win over Colorado was that they cannot be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention prior to Wednesday's game.