SUN Hockey Pool

Kipper trips up Stars

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:45 AM ET

In the afternoon, after not making the splashy trade, Darryl Sutter said he was ready to go to war with his team.

Last night, his charges rewarded that faith.

Not with goals, though. Don't expect the leopard that is the Calgary Flames to suddenly change their spots.

They carved out a gritty 1-0 triumph over a Dallas Stars team that's as good as any you'll find in the league.

The low-scoring, playoff-style affair proves -- at least for a day -- Sutter was right by not mortgaging any future for a proven scorer, opting to go with the cast pretty much already assembled.

The message wasn't lost in room, said forward Darren McCarty.

"Darryl said he assembled this team in the image he expects us to play and you've got 20 greasy guys that will go out there and work hard and you know what you're gonna get every night," McCarty said.

"We've got to find that secondary scoring but we're getting enough to win.

"With Kipper playing the way he is, we'll take it."

With performances such as last night's 39-save outing from goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, the Flames at least have a chance to succeed despite being one of the league's lowest scoring clubs.

Daymond Langkow scored Calgary's only goal of the game, a first-period tally that stood up as the winner, mainly because of Kiprusoff's outstanding play.

Dallas captain Mike Modano was more than willing to throw his praise in the goaltender's direction.

"He basically won the game for them," Modano said.

"There was nothing really special about their team, about their game tonight, besides him.

"He played great, moved well, saw the angles. We had some great chances, good looks at it but it was a great game for him."

Especially when the game was most on the line.

En route to collecting his league-leading eighth shutout, Kiprusoff provided something of an instant replay of the last Flames win by holding the fort during a crucial five-on-three powerplay early in the third period.

With Kristian Huselius in the penalty box and 1:08 remaining in his infraction, Jordan Leopold was sent to the sin bin with a high-sticking double minor.

During the five-on-three advantage, Kiprusoff blocked a pair of Sergei Zubov point shots, denied Brenden Morrow from the slot and -- for good measure -- made a picturesque glove save on Modano's point shot to keep the score 1-0 for the hosts.

The penalty killers did an outstanding job during the remainder of Leopold's infractions and the second penalty ended with Kiprusoff sliding across his crease to stone Niko Kapanen to the delight of the sellout crowd of 19,289.

With the trio of kills, Calgary ran its streak of successful penalty kills to 36.

When all was said and done, the Stars (41-19-3) were blanked for the first time this season.

"They were shooting lots but I felt pretty good right from the start," Kiprusoff said. "There's been games when I had only one or two shots in a period but today was more and it's fun to have these kind of games once in a while."

Calgary (36-19-7) remains one point ahead of Colorado in the Northwest Division race, heading into its home-and-home series against the Avs that begins Sunday in Denver.


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