All Hale great d-man save

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

It's not often the save of the game is made in the first few minutes.

It's even more infrequent that the stop is made by a defenceman.

But that's exactly what took place last night when David Hale swept a loose puck out of the Calgary Flames crease before it crossed the goal-line, keeping the game scoreless and allowing his teammates to strike first en route to a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at the Saddledome.

Ales Hemsky nearly gave the visitors an early lead when he slipped the puck through Miikka Kiprusoff on a rush that could have caused the game to unfold in an entirely different direction.

"I know. If they would have got that one, they would have had the momentum," said Hale.

"We would have been back where we've been used to playing -- coming from behind. You just can't do that.

"(Hemsky) was coming down with a lot of speed. I just tried to keep him to the outside and give Kipper an angle. I just followed it up and happened to see it there.

"Thank God it wasn't going any quicker."

It happened so early in the contest, many forgot about it in the grand scheme of the second installment of the Battle of Alberta this week.

For those who were on the ice, though, it was a big moment.

"It's a huge play. Those are little turning points," said centre Craig Conroy.

"He was right there. I was right there, too. I'm like, 'Get that, Halesy.'

"To see him knock it out was nice."

Hale doesn't get much attention as a bottom-pairing blueliner.

He's still waiting, patiently, for his first NHL goal. Last night was the 199th game of his career.

Plays like the one he made against the Oilers though, are just as important as scoring.

"It's nice. Something like that, you feel like you're contributing," said Hale.

"Helping out a little bit."


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