SUN Hockey Pool

Iggy shoots to thrill

Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff stops a shot from the Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard during the...

Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff stops a shot from the Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard during the shootout at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Stuart Dryden)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

The celebration proved how much victory meant to Miikka Kiprusoff.

Finally the Calgary Flames netminder wouldn't have to face nagging questions after a shootout loss.

For the first time in more than a year, Kiprusoff was victorious in a shootout and relished last night's 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.

"Guys have been laughing at me," he said of his teammates' reaction to the way he jumped to his feet after the deciding save. "It's been some tough times, been talked about a lot. I think I'm going the right direction with it."

Kiprusoff's last shootout win was Dec. 23, 2005, in Vancouver. Since then, he'd lost eight in a row.

This season had been particularly dreadful for the all-star netminder. He'd stopped only two of nine shootout shots and both of those saves came in the same game.

Last night, though, he pushed away the disappointment with a vengeance, denying Pavol Demitra, Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who tried the highlight-reel spinorama move he'd successfully used in the past.

"Actually, I remembered it after," Kiprusoff admitted. "He almost had me but I just tried to kick my leg there."

Head coach Jim Playfair was relieved, too

"I was really really happy for Miikka," he said. "After that first save, I thought he had a lot of confidence and he just refocused. It was obviously a tricky play to make the save on the third one."

For the longest time, Kiprusoff's teammates didn't know he'd made the huge save, with the puck hidden by his pad.

"I couldn't see the puck from the bench. I didn't know," said Robyn Regehr, who didn't want to begin celebrating too quickly. "I was just looking for the referee to wave his hands and say 'no goal.' "

Jarome Iginla scored the lone goal in the showdown, also something of a surprise.

The sniper failed in his only other shootout attempt this season and scored only once in nine chances in the 2005-06 campaign.

"It's been a while," said Iginla, who ripped a wrister past Josh Harding's trapper.

"I've been cold for a while but tonight, for whatever reason, I was up and got fortunate. It went off the post and in. It's inches so it was a good bounce."

Playfair wasn't playing a hunch with Iginla. "I just felt he should be in a position when the game's on the line to give him a chance to do what he can do best and that's why I picked him," he said.

Calgary (34-21-9) moves into a tie with Vancouver for first in the division. Minnesota (35-23-6) sits one point back, and eighth in the West.

Pavol Demitra scored for the Wild, while Regehr drew Calgary even late in the third.


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