Wild tamed by Kipper

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

ST. PAUL -- The franchise record was secondary for Miikka Kiprusoff.

He didn't really concern himself with the milestone shutout, his 21st as a Calgary Flame, after last night's 1-0 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild.

The netminder was more excited about the two points in the standings that extended Calgary's lead on ninth-place Colorado to seven with less than two weeks remaining in the season.

"It was the kind of game we thought it was gonna be," Kiprusoff said after blocking all 40 shots sent his way, including a pair in the showdown.

"They're playing really well lately and they came hard. It probably wasn't our best game in a couple of weeks but it was enough to take two points."

The Flames (41-25-10) have now won four straight games and, thanks to Colorado's 3-0 loss to Vancouver last night, are in command in the playoff chase. Both teams have six games remaining, including a pair against each other.

For that seven-point bulge, the Flames were thanking Kiprusoff, who pulled ahead of Dan Bouchard for top spot on the franchise's shutout list.

"Kipper was great, especially in overtime when he had to make that save by coming across the crease to give us a chance to get that extra point," said Jarome Iginla, one of two Flames to score in the shootout. "We had a really bad first (period) and Kipper kept us in it and gave us a chance to get our feet under us. Because of Kipper's play, we were able to hang in there and win a road game that's not the prettiest.

"We found a way to win, that's the important thing."

Alex Tanguay opened the shootout by beating Minny goalie Niklas Backstrom.

Kiprusoff stopped both Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston on their chances.

Kiprusoff had started 25 games without registering a goose-egg.

He needed to be superb to snap the Wild's nine-game winning streak (45-24-8).

In the first period, Kiprusoff showed he was on top of his game, as his team was outshot 14-5. That stat read 29-16 Wild after the second period.

Minnesota sniper Marian Gaborik couldn't beat him despite registering six quality shots on goal.

He was so frustrated after failing to convert a two-on-one in overtime -- Kiprusoff just got a piece of the puck with his trapper while sliding across the net -- Gaborik slammed his stick on the ice.

The closest Minnesota came to beating Kiprusoff came late in the first. Mark Parrish deflected a Mikko Koivu shot from the point into the net but a lengthy review ruled the puck was hit with a high stick.

"You have to give credit to Calgary, Kiprusoff played a great game," Parrish said.

"I thought we played pretty good. We didn't give up much."

Backstrom is credited with a shutout, too, a scenario Kiprusoff experienced last season in a game against Philadelphia. Kiprusoff admitted thinking about that clash just before the shootout began.

"It was funny to lose and get a shutout. It's better this way," he said.

The two teams will go at again tomorrow night in St. Paul, with the Flames looking to build on the momentum from garnering a victory after a slow start and putting together a better effort as the game went on.

"It's a good streak we've been on," Iginla said.

"We've found different ways to win and we're playing teams that are fighting for different things, fighting for the top of the conference or fighting for the division and on good streaks.

"It's a lot of positives and better for our confidence.

"You want to win games certain ways but you'll take the two points any way you can and take the positive from that, for sure."


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