SUN Hockey Pool

Kipper yanked in stinker

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Trivia buffs will want to jot this down.

Miikka Kiprusoff's first hook at the hands of new head coach Mike Keenan came in Game 9 on Oct. 22, 2007, at 16:22 of the second period.

Not that the Calgary Flames goaltender had anything to do with the decision after the third goal against in a 4-1 San Jose Sharks win last night at the Saddledome.

"Pulling Miikka tonight had nothing to do with Miikka's play whatsoever," said Keenan as his players rode the stationary bikes after the disappointing effort. "I was trying to give the team a jumpstart -- some kind of energy -- trying to get them to refocus on what their task was tonight.

"They didn't respond to it at all, but when you're in what I felt was a situation where we had no emotional response, I thought maybe we could get something and generate something from the group by doing that."

Instead, the hole got deeper. Rookie Curtis McElhinney went unscathed for the final few minutes of the frame in his NHL debut but was victimized on the first shot of the third period, when Milan Michalek scored his second of the night to give the Sharks a 4-0 stranglehold.

Kiprusoff said he had a hard time watching from the bench.

"You want to always play," he said. "But that's a coach's call, and I'll go with that."

The Flames didn't get on the board until 2:33 left in the game, when Daymond Langkow one-timed a feed from Kristian Huselius to spoil Evgeni Nabokov's shutout bid.

That's all the home fans had to celebrate, aside from the pre-game ceremony to honour Owen Nolan playing his 1,000th NHL contest.

Heading in, it was supposed to be a battle between potential heavyweights. But the TKO rattled everyone.

"I thought this is an upper-echelon team in the league and a chance to see what it takes," said Flames vet Rhett Warrener. "I thought this was a chance to test ourselves, and we failed miserably."

While Keenan absolved Alex Tanguay of what many -- including the winger himself -- thought was one of the game's turning points, Tanguay had a hard time shaking off an errant pass he made playing the point on a powerplay that led to Michalek's shorthanded goal to give the Sharks a two-goal lead.

"Stupid play," Tanguay said, as much to himself as the few reporters gathered around him. "I gave him a goal. It's plain and simple. We were still in the game -- it was one-zip at the time -- and I felt that play shifted the momentum."

Keenan thought a linesman's whistle while the game was still scoreless in the first period could just as easily have been the difference.

Robyn Regehr had just smashed Jeremy Roenick into the boards and left him frozen and dazed but still standing, as Jarome Iginla was sprung on a breakaway the other way. But the man in stripes adamantly blew his whistle.

"That could have been a turning point more than the shorthanded goal," said Keenan, who was even more flustered Roenick waved to fans on his way to the bench. "I didn't appreciate that he gestured to the crowd when he was supposed to be the injured player."


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