SUN Hockey Pool

One for the Kipper

Vancouver Canucks Jarkko Ruutu (right) reaches for a rebound as Calgary Flames goalie Mikka...

Vancouver Canucks Jarkko Ruutu (right) reaches for a rebound as Calgary Flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff keeps his eyes on the puck during second period NHL action in Calgary, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005 .(CP PHOTO/Jeff McIntosh)

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:29 PM ET

Nothing like a little bad blood to bring out the best in the Calgary Flames.

In a hostile, no-holds-barred battle at the 'Dome last night, the Flames clawed their way to a 1-0 lead on a first-period goal from Marcus Nilson and held on to beat the division-leading Vancouver Canucks by the same score.

In a playoff-like atmosphere in front of a sellout crowd of 19,289, the Flames electrified their fans with a gritty performance against their West Coast rivals to take the first of two home games in three days against the Canucks, earning their third straight win.

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter said his team played with heart.

"The crowd was into it, both teams were into it and thank our lucky stars we scored a goal, played our guts out and won again," Sutter said.

Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff continued his climb back to the top of the league's elite and earned his paycheque for the night in the third period alone during a four-minute Canucks powerplay -- two minutes of which was five-on-three with both Dion Phaneuf and Stephane Yelle in the sin bin.

That long penalty kill may have been the nail in the Canucks coffin. Flames captain Jarome Iginla admitted it was an important chapter.

"When you give a team a five-on-three for that long, if you kill it, it's a huge boost for your team and if not, it's a boost for the other team," said Iginla. "That's just the way it works.

"The guys who were out there along with Kipper gave a huge effort. Our guys were out there for a while -- we were on the bench screaming -- but it was fun."

Kiprusoff finished with 23 saves to earn his third shutout of the season, all at the Saddledome.

Nilson, suddenly the hottest Flame in the lineup with consecutive winning goals, scored 10:28 into the first thanks to a great pass from Craig MacDonald.

MacDonald jumped on a puck in the corner and sent a pass between Canuck Ed Jovanovski's legs to Nilson, who was all alone in front of the net.

Canucks goaltender Alex Auld could only watch as Nilson roofed the puck over his trapper.

"That's tough," said Auld. "One little mistake and it costs you the game."

Sutter said Nilson's hard work, which isn't always obvious on the scoresheet, is finally paying off.

"One thing about a guy like Nilson, he empties it out every night," said Sutter. "At some point he's going to get his rewards."

Flames d-man Rhett Waxrrener put an exclamation point on the first 40 minutes with a big hit on Canuck Todd Bertuzzi.

- - -

CALGARY FLAMES: 1

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: 0


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