SUN Hockey Pool

Flames' serious road rash

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The last thing the Calgary Flames fans wanted to see was their team go to a shootout against the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild held a 6-2 record this season in those battles, including a dynamic victory over the Chicago Blackhawks just two nights prior.

The Flames, meanwhile, lost their only showdown of the year on the road in Columbus.

But Calgary was happy to come away with a point last night, fighting back from a two-goal first-period deficit before falling 3-2 in the shootout on goals from Wild snipers Mikko Koivu and Brian Rolston at the Xcel Energy Center.

The loss came on a night when Flames captain Jarome Iginla scored his 300th NHL goal and 600th point.

Byron Ritchie, who set up a shorthanded marker by Rhett Warrener in the second period to start the Flames' rally, scored the only shootout goal for the visitors.

Rolston used his patented slapshot to beat Miikka Kiprusoff in the showdown, while Koivu roofed a nifty backhand deke to clinch it.

Kiprusoff wasn't surprised when Rolston teed off -- he's done it twice successfully in a shootout and penalty shot this season -- but it didn't make it any easier to stop.

"I know he's done it before but it's a tough shot. He had a pretty hard slapshot," said Kiprusoff, who watched the puck slip between his right pad and glove.

"We did get one point, though, so it's better than nothing."

Iginla brushed aside Martin Skoula and one-handed the puck through Manny Fernandez with the defenceman draped all over the Flames captain for his historic marker in the second period.

While Iginla would have loved to complete the comeback -- and his team had a few golden opportunities in the third and OT periods -- he knew the shootout would be akin to flipping a coin.

"You get to a shootout and it could go either way. That's part of it," he said. "Unfortunately we didn't get that extra point."

True, the Flames came away with just a single point but it came against a Northwest Division rival but that was impressive, considering the way the game started.

The rotten omens began a day earlier when the Flames lost Marcus Nilson -- who will be evaluated in Calgary today -- to a knee injury on a fluky fall during a drill at Xcel after breaking habit and flying out of Calgary before practising.

Six penalties in the first period seemed like another sign of bad things to come and the Flames found themselves down by two at the first intermission. That made it tough to come back.

"When you start the game killing penalties as much as we did, too many people sit on the bench and too many players get taxed too much on the kill and we put ourselves behind early," said Flames head coach Jim Playfair. "That was the difference in the game."


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