SUN Hockey Pool

A smashing success

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

Breaking glass was easy, but bulging the twine against the Minnesota Wild proved to be a much more difficult task.

The Twin Cities crew is known to play a smothering style and a physical game, so a low-scoring battle between the Calgary Flames and visiting Wild last night came as no surprise.

The shock value was provided by Stephane Yelle, who netted a goal and a helper in the Flames' 2-1 win over their division rival.

He got the Flames on the board 2:12 into the second period to tie the game at 1-1 and drew an assist on Craig Conroy's winning goal in the third period as the Flames seem to be getting contributions from their role players.

Add that to his tally in Friday's contest and Yelle has a bit of a streak going into the all-star break. Told goals aren't his forte, the veteran centre responded with a smile.

"It used to be," said Yelle, a big point producer in the junior ranks circa the early '90s.

His performance earned him shifts with the second and third lines over the final half, leading one broadcaster to suggest we may soon see Yelle on the first line.

"I don't know if he can be on the top line," said head coach Mike Keenan with a grin. "I'm happy for him. It's been a hard start for this season, but he's an experienced player. Maybe this'll give him a little bit of a confidence boost that he's probably earned."

Yelle suggests it has.

"It feels good just to be able to help out the guys offensively. We all play to score goals, get assists and help out the team. Sometimes, when it's not going your way offensively, it becomes a grind.

"When you get a couple of goals like that it just helps out your confidence, and makes it fun."

Conroy has also struggled to score this season, so he was ecstatic to net the winner with less than a dozen minutes to play. Knowing first place in the division was a possibility didn't hurt, either.

"We knew going into the third period that Colorado lost," said Conroy, who heard of the Avs' misfortune from assistant coach Rich Preston. "It's important. We want to be there. We want to stay there."

Preston was also Conroy's inspiration to send a backhand shot in for the winner when Owen Nolan tapped Yelle's pass over to him in front. After unsuccessful passes earlier, Conroy wasn't about to give it up this time.

"I had an earful. Rich Preston was giving it to me a little bit," said Conroy of not shooting on his earlier chances.

"I just tried to throw it on net. Good things happen."

The Flames sent 37 shots at Josh Harding, with Dion Phaneuf -- whose slapshot was a bone of contention when the two teams last met -- one of the regular contributers.

Five of Phaneuf's shots hit the net.

Two shattered side-by-side panes of glass minutes apart in the first period.

Also known for a heavy shot, Brian Rolston didn't miss with his.

The Wild winger ripped a line drive past Miikka Kiprusoff to start the scoring 3:31 into the game.

After the game, the Flames sent forward Eric Nystrom down to AHL Quad City.

Nystrom has just recovered from some fractures in his jaw the past few weeks, but the team had to send him down to make the roster limit.


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