February 18 2012 11:01PM
We know how the Calgary Flames are doing it, but yet...we kind of don't know how. Riding the spectacular goaltending of Miikka Kiprusoff, and his fourth shutout this season, the Flames were able to use a third period goal from Mike Cammalleri to take a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings and officially move into a playoff spot for the first time this season. It's exciting to see despite another, um, punchless effort for Calgary. They've now got points in eight straight games.
I don't know if anyone would be surprised to see these two teams scoreless through one, or two, periods, so seeing a scoreless tie after 20 really didn't surprise. Neither team scored on their powerplay opportunities early on and we all get another little scare with a slow moving Matt Stajan. When it was all said and done, Stajan would return to action and the period would end 0-0 with scoring chances sliding LA's way 6-4.
Not much different in the second period on the scoreboard, but it was really when the Kiprusoff show began. Calgary managed just two shots in the second period while allowing 12 and were handily outchanced 7-1 in the process. But once again, it was the Kiprusoff show turning back a pair of LA powerplays and keeping this thing very much in the balance.
The third period saw the Kings get a few more scoring opportunities early on, but it was some Tom Kostopoulos hustle that opened the scoring. Racing to a loose puck down the right side boards, Kostopoulos would catch up and fire a pass to Cammalleri just right of the slot. The one thing we know about Cammalleri is his lightning release which was one display for his 14th of the season at 4:03. From there on out, Calgary was able to rely on their defensive shell and their goaltender to preserve a 1-0 win.
One Good Reason...
...why the Flames won? There really is only one, and his name is Miikka Kiprusoff. They're riding all world stuff from him right now, as he's turned the clock back to his early years with the team. Kiprusoff bailed the team out time and time again and earned the shutout for himself with only limited help from the guys in front of him. Some fortunate bounces and a hot goaltender are keeping Calgary afloat, and in fact have them thriving in the results column.
It's gotta be Kiprusoff. We'll give an honorable mention to Cammalleri for his big goal and some key faceoff wins down the stretch, but Mike isn't in that spot to score the game winner without the huge effort of his goalie. What more needs to be said? 44 career shutouts and four this season.
Sum It Up
I think this last little stretch for the Flames surprises me more than their second half surge did last year. Calgary is a bottom third team by underlying metrics and they are routinely getting outshot and outchanced. Yet, they've earned points in eight straight games and now have a playoff spot for the first time in almost a year. If you're the Flames, ride it while you can.