After missing 13 games, Calgary finally had their #1 goalie back. The team went 6-5-2 over those 13, so it’s up to you if that was unlucky or not. Tonight would also be the teams 7th stab at getting above the .500 mark. Would "7" be your Calgary Flames lucky number tonight?
Again the team would be facing an opponent delayed later than expected in Vancouver. This time it would be the San Jose Sharks that would come into the Dome slightly less than prepared. Calgary was going to be the team that determined the tempo of this game, and try to controll it with their style of play. Most importantly, find a way to keep Marleau and the two Joey’s aways from the front of the Flames net.
Lucky number seven would be lucky indeed for Calgary, not to mention Kiprusoff’s return to the blue paint wasn’t heroic by any means to start the game, but he was impressive when they needed him in the end, and tonight was enough to push the Flames over the top; and over .500.
The game started fairly back and forth. The Sharks would have the early edge in pressure, but for the most part, Calgary would hold their own. Maybe they were looking for a moment of opportunity, maybe they were just playing conservatively to allow Kipper to re-adjust to life back on the ice.
It wasn’t too long ago that Roman Cervenka was almost a healthy scratch. Since then he has actually played with more determination in getting to those open areas to create some scoring chances. Tonight that play payed off as he opened the scoring at 4:37 of the first period. Following up the play, Roman was Johnny on the spot to cap off a nice series of passes from Hudler and Iginla. Bouwmeester was the shooter, but Cervenka was quicker than Greiss on the rebound.
After the goal, the game seemed to settle in for both sides. While the Flames appeared to carry the play for the most part, it was hard to tell definitively because the Sharks weren’t skating well at all.
Regardless the period ended with just the one goal. Flames edges San Jose 9-8 in shots and 5-3 in scoring chances.
The Sharks came out tilting the ice in their favour in the second, yet still couldn’t mount any chances. Instead it was Calgary that had a few of their own in their limited early opportunities; the best probably coming off a streaking Blake Comeau… Well as much as Blake Comeau can streak.
By the midpoint of the period, absolutely nothing had happened. The closest we got to anything changing the scoreboard was a sure fire goal that was accidentally blocked by Logan Couture because he was stuck in the crease with his back to the play.
At 13:53, Mark Giordano would make a defensive error, coughing up the puck to Joe Pavelski just off to the left of Kiprusoff. Little Joe would throw it across the crease to Big Joe and we had ourselves a tie game. You can’t make that kind of errors to guys like Little/Big Joe, Gio.
Despite the goal from San Jose, Calgary was by far the superior team in the middle frame. Again they out-shot the Sharks 11-8, they dominated the face-off circle and out-chanced San Jose 10-5. But they also had seven giveaways and one big one was what led to the game being tied after forty.
The third started with Calgary on their heels and playing mostly in their own zone; a famiiar tale to the chagrin of Flames fans. That is until at 2:57, when Blake Comeau came streaking down the right side (as much as Blake Comeau can streak) and snapped one passed Greiss on the far side.
Less than two minutes later, the captain of your Calgary Flames would get the puck in the high slot and put another wrister passed Greiss on the blocker side. Two quick goals knocking the wind out of the Sharks momentum as the Flames start a book on where to shoot on the San Jose back-up.
Late in the game, with the Sharks trying to push back, it became the Miikka Kiprusoff show. If there was any rust after missing thirteen games, it was all gone by the time Calgary needed him to step up.
Wave after wave in the last five minutes of the game, like someone had chummed the water for the Sharks. All the while, Miikka staved off the attack with great angles and quick reactions to one-timers. The fans in the Dome cheered while Kipper stood stoically in his crease and "Du Hast" belted out of the speakers.
With Blake Comeau taking a weird penalty with a little over two on the clock, San Jose would pull Greiss in a last ditch effort. Instead Curtis Glencross would ice it with the Flames first short handed goal of the season. And that was all she wrote.
The Sharks ran up the numbers in every column but the one that counted. They out-shot Calgary 17-6 and dominated the scoring chances 7-2; not able to make hay out of either though.
Why The Flames Won…
As mentioned before, this was the second straight game where a team was forced to arrive late in Calgary from Vancouver due to the snowfall. It seems to work well for Calgary as they ended up with a combined four points out of both ordeals.
As a result, the Flames were again able to apply sustained pressure on a weary opponent that didn’t have it in them to weather a 60 minute game.
The Sharks looked terrible from start to finish and Calgary was able to take advantage of it.
Because every time the Sharks started to push, the Flames were able to limit their chances and turn the momentum back in their favour.
Because when the Flames needed to score… they did score
Finally, because of this guy!
It was the popular topic of conversation all day, when Bob Hartley announced that Kipper was going to get the start.
It was probably also in the back of people’s minds just how Kipper was performing prior to the injury 13 games ago against Detroit.
With the Flames really needing this one, would Miikka be in game shape enough to keep the Flames in the game long enough to get a lucky bounce or just flat out bait the Sharks into playing a game they could not win.
The answer? YES!
He didn’t have to be spectacular in the first or second periods. But when it came time to save the win for Calgary in the third, with a pressing San Jose team, Miikka was equal to the task.
Hell, he was more than equal, he was Miikka Kiprusoff.
Time and time again in the waning minutes of the game, he would take away the shot, slide across to block the one-timer or flat out "rob" San Jose shooters.
Sum it Up
What a nice change it was getting contibutions from the likes of Comeau and Butler. Despite the bulk of the power coming from the usual suspects, both of these guys actually had their best games of the season.
I have often been critical of both, but tonight both guys get a stick tap for their efforts. Butler played over 22 minutes, and Comeau ended up replacing Baertschi in the third period, when Hartley shortened the bench, because of his effort tonight.
More importantly than the win, Kipper gave the Flames an important intangible. He gave them the confidence they are going to need to have in him if they want to make headway on a difficult upcoming road trip.
With Kipper looking like he is mid-season form, Calgary now makes their way down to California.
With back-to-backs in LA and a visit to the Duck pond, if the Flames can put together a better than decent effort and build off the adrenaline they will undoubtedly get from the return of Kiprusoff, the might be able to climb the Western ladder a little bit higher.
Two points out of 8th in the West, and believe it or not, only 5 points behind the division leading Canucks. The next three games will be telling, especially depending how the teams above them play over the same span. It all gets underway Friday in Anaheim. Game time is 8:30 MST on SNET-W and the Fan 960