Hero nets another zero

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

The shooting gallery lasted for what seemed an eternity.

Miikka Kiprusoff, however, proved more than capable to withstand the hail of bullets.

The Flames goaltender showed his old squad once again last night why he's among the best in the game, especially while slamming the door shut during a first-period five-on-three powerplay to earn a 2-0 win over the San Jose Sharks.

"For the full two minutes, they were in our end and Kipper made save after save," said Darren McCarty, whose slashing penalty put the hosts down two men for 1:36. "I was joking with him that after the first period last game, he had like two shots and so I'd take the five-on-three just so he could get into it early."

And all but put the Sharks out of it. Having already stopped Joe Thornton a couple of times during the first portion of Shean Donovan's tripping infraction, Kiprusoff's life heated up when McCarty was sent to the sin bin.

He first delivered one save on Jonathan Cheechoo.

And then another on Patrick Marleau.

The third came against Tom Preissing before a duel with Scott Thornton.

And all that came during the five-on-three.

To shut the door with authority, as the powerplays concluded, he again stoned Joe Thornton.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Guess again.

"No. It's a lot of work for the goalie," Kiprusoff said with a smile. "You have to be moving back and forth. I think we've been doing pretty well this season, we have lots of confidence on five-on-threes."

Astonishingly, the best save of the 26 Kiprusoff recorded en route to collecting his NHL leading and Flames record seventh shutout of the season didn't come during that flurry.

It came at the midway point, when Marcel Goc danced around both Bryan Marchment and Jason Wiemer, only to see his top-corner offering gloved to the delight of the 19,289 who jammed the Saddledome.

"Kipper, he's awesome," Donovan said. "We count on him every night and he's always there."

Although Kiprusoff was worthy of the first-star accolades, his team deserves plenty of credit for the job they did collectively shutting down Thornton and Marleau. The dynamic duo was blanked for only the fourth time in the 35 outings since Thornton arrived from Boston.

"You've got to pay special attention to both of them, and I thought everybody did a good job not giving them time and space," McCarty said. "When you give guys with that talent time and space, they'll make great plays. We did a really good job in the neutral zone, not letting them skate with the puck."

Goals by Chris Simon, his third in six outings, and Jarome Iginla, ensured Kiprusoff's heroics weren't wasted.

They also improved Calgary's record to 35-18-7, which means a two-point edge on Vancouver with two games in hand.

Colorado remains three points back, and has also played two more games, while Edmonton is seven points off the pace.

Nabokov stopped 20 shots for San Jose, which dropped back-to-back games in Alberta.

- - -

CALGARY FLAMES: 2

SAN JOSE SHARKS: 0


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