Kipper weathers storm

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

As if facing one of the most potent attacks in hockey wasn't enough of a challenge, Miikka Kiprusoff dashed out of his net late in last night's game to do something he's never tried.

With the Flames pressing hard at the other end of the ice, a puck thrown by a fan rolled into Kiprusoff's end prompting the netminder to abandon his net as play continued.

To the delight of a sold out crowd already chanting his name, he fired the second puck into play down ice.

"I tried to score," laughed the quiet netminder with a shrug.

"I was kind of waiting for us to have the puck, then I went -- I wanted to show the refs it was there."

As the puck zipped by a confused Rhett Warrener, play was whistled down by the refs.

Just when you thought the Vezina Trophy winner had run out of ways to steal the spotlight, he'd done it again.

"We don't want him to get a big fat head," grinned Warrener on the heels of a 3-0 win over Carolina.

"But he's a star goalie in the league and we expect him to do that."

Get shutouts, that is -- not goals.

Walking in with shiny new Stanley Cup rings, two of the league's best lines and all the confidence in the world, Carolina left without giving the Flames much of a game.

That said, it was a Kiprusoff save one minute into the second period of a 2-0 game that clinched this one.

Scott Walker had walked in alone down the left wing and with a head feint followed by a beauty move, appeared to have Kiprusoff beat.

Guess again.

Extending his left pad just in time to stop Walker, No. 34 kicked the puck out.

"I thought I had pulled him far enough across but he's so good down low," said Walker, who slammed his stick on the ice after the whistle.

"Obviously, if that goes in we'd have a better chance -- it would be 2-1 and whole different game."

A man of few words, Kiprusoff admitted he thought Walker had beaten him.

"It was a good move -- I was sure he was going to shoot," said the game's first star, who made 23 saves for his third shutout of the season.

"He surprised me a little bit. I was stuck and couldn't move, so I had to throw something there. A little bit lucky there, too."

The only man in the building who didn't see the save was the defenceman Walker blew past.

"I was trying to catch my breath as he went by me," smiled Warrener.

"Noodles (Jamie McLennan) said it was a great save, especially at that point in the game."

Extending the team's home win streak to eight by stopping 204 of 210 shots he's faced here during that span, Kiprusoff's save percentage of late has been no lower than .920 in any performance.

In his last eight starts here, he's only allowed two goals once.

After a somewhat shaky start to the season, Kiprusoff is back in form, allowing the Flames to climb back into a playoff race this club wouldn't belong in without him.

"He makes it look easy," said Eric Cole, one of six Hurricanes with 10 or more goals.

"We only play him once, so we'll leave it at that."

Good idea.

Almost as good as throwing two pucks at him at once.


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