Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo shine in divisional clash
It was a goaltending clinic on Tuesday night as the Calgary Flames fell 4-1 to Vancouver Canucks. Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo were on fire all night, making highlight reel saves throughout 60 minutes.
GAME IN A MINUTE
BY THE NUMBERS
OUR THREE STARS
"He played well," lamented Jamie Lundmark of Luongo's play.
"I had a post. Olli had a few posts. We put a good effort in tonight. We did a lot of good things. We had over 40 shots. We worked hard. It's unfortunate we came out with the loss."
The good news for the Flames is that they are still in control of their playoff positioning destiny. Since they have more wins than the Canucks, they can retain first place in the Northwest with two wins over the Oilers this weekend no matter what Vancouver does in their last two contests.
Luongo got his night started with four Flames chances within the first minute. It was just a preview of what was to come as Luongo was able to stop all four quality scoring opportunities and keep the pressing Flames at bay.
The Flames tied a season record with 21 shots on net. The Canucks had nine.
To begin his sequence of excellent saves, Kiprusoff stoned Willie Mitchell as the forward came in on a partial breakaway. Jordan Leopold blew a tire at the blueline and Mitchell came steaming in. Receiving a pass, Mitchell was wide open to take a shot, opting for a backhand, but the Finnish netminder got his blocker on it.
Shortly after Ryan Kesler had a golden opportunity when he chipped at the puck in a scramble around the Flames net. He did manage to knock the puck towards the cage but Kiprusoff batted the shot onto the top of the net to get a stoppage in play.
Mats Sundin, the Canucks biggest free agent landing of the season, gave Kiprusoff quite a few tricky shots to deal with. In the first period he snapped a hard shot from the hash marks, aiming to go over Kiprusoff's left shoulder. The Flames goalie read the play perfectly and threw his left arm up to whack the puck out of harms way.
The Canucks first goal of night came late in the opening frame. Rick Rypien, who has all three of his goals this season against the Flames, was able to shake off a great stick-lift by Jarome Iginla and pick up his own rebound. He snapped the shot hard, just squeaking by Kiprusoff short side.
While on the power play in the second frame, Sundin wired a rocket on Kiprusoff through a screen but the goaltender got his pads down to make the crucial save.
Not to be outdone, Luongo showed off his glove hand when he robbed Lundmark. With some time, the Flames forward looked to go top shelf as the Canucks goalie was on the ice but Luongo threw his arm up to make the big stop.
Mattias Ohlund's second period goal, the game winner, changed direction while on it's way from the blueline and the knuckleball shot was impossible for Kiprusoff to track down.
In the third period, the Sedins came storming into the Flames zone with their patented give-and-go play but Kiprusoff wouldn't budge. He stuck with puck and made the pad save. Minutes later, Daniel got a breakaway but once again, Kiprusoff had his number as he stacked the pads to keep the puck out of the cage.
Vancouver had to deal with penalty troubles in the third as well. Calgary had a 5-on-3 chance to even the game up and Luongo continued his amazing play to deny every Flames shot. Lundmark wasn't too pleased with the power play's lack of fire power.
"We've got to score on our PP's," he sighed, shaking his head.
While very disciplined throughout the contest, the Flames took two quick penalties to give Vancouver a 5-on-3 for 36 seconds. Kiprusoff made some key saves in the initial 5-on-3 but as the second penalty was just eight seconds away from expiring, Glencross took a slashing call.
That third straight penalty made it even more important for Kiprusoff to continue his stellar play. He made another save on Henrik Sedin's crafty backhander but he was unlucky on Ohlund's second goal of the game. The defenseman blasted a shot through a screen and with Steve Bernier standing directly in his view, he couldn't get his leg over in time to make the stop.
Henrik Sedin scored a late tally to end the contest. While the score doesn't indicate it, the Flames played an extraordinarily solid road game and took it to the Canucks for the majority of the game. It was Roberto Luongo who weathered the storm of Calgary shots and held his team in.
At the end of 60 minutes, Calgary had 47 shots on net compared to Vancouver's 25.
Ohlund, while scoring two on the night, wasn't pleased with his team's effort.
"We probably didn't deserve two points tonight. Calgary outplayed us most of the night."
Head coach Mike Keenan fully agreed with Ohlund's assessment of the night.
"We had a great effort, no question about that," Keen commented, adding the only reason the Flames didn't clinch top spot in the division was the man between the pipes.
"He was the reason they won the hockey game."