SUN Hockey Pool

Miikka weaves magic

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

SAN JOSE -- Jarome Iginla was a hero. Dion Phaneuf played hero. Hey, even fourth-liner Mark Smith was a hero.

Yet, they and the rest of the Calgary Flames know who deserved the bulk of the credit for last night's 4-3 overtime victory against the host San Jose Sharks.

"Kipper was awesome. He was the number one reason we got that win tonight," said Iginla, who scored the winning goal but deflected all praise toward netminder Miikka Kiprusoff.

"We were outplayed but we found a way to stay in, battle, get a late goal on the powerplay and found a way to win.

"Some games, the other teams are going to be better, but those (wins) are huge boosts."

Call it a boost. Call it a hard-earned win. Call it a gut-check performance.

Better yet, call the cops, because Kiprusoff stole a victory against his old team with a 40-save performance before what became a stunned crowd of 17,269.

"Kipper won us that one, plain and simple," said Smith, the former Shark who netted his first goal of the season in the victory.

"We can't go out and allow 40 shots and expect to win games, but thank goodness we've got Kipper. When you're not at your best, the goalie sometimes needs to bail you out and that's what he did.

"It feels good to win that one."

Yeah, like sigh-of-relief good.

On a night the Flames had no business being in the hunt for a win, Kiprusoff kept his team in the clash long enough for Phaneuf's goal with 49.8 seconds remaining in regulation to force the extra session.

Kiprusoff's heroics weren't wasted because Iginla one-timed a cross-ice feed from Phaneuf with 29.4 ticks left on the clock in overtime. It's the second time this season Iginla has scored the game-winner in an extra frame at the HP Pavilion.

"Both set up by Dion, too," Iginla said with a smile. "He draws a lot of attention, three guys went to him, and it opened it up for one last shot.

"It was nice to see that go in."

About as nice for the Flames as Phaneuf's game-tying goal, a long wrister with Kiprusoff on the bench for the extra attacker while the Flames had a powerplay.

And certainly prettier than Smith's tally, which came amidst a wild scramble. He fell in the crease while the puck was loose and saw it bounce into the cage off his body.

"That won't be on the highlight reel. I think I scored with my butt," he said with a hearty laugh. "It feels good. Our line has played well the last couple of games, and it's nice to see that go in and get a reward."

Likewise, to reward their netminder, who's rounding into form at a key time, with the playoff push in full swing and the Flames still looking at four more road games during this current tour of the Pacific Division.

"It's two points and this is not an easy building to get points," Kiprusoff said. "They're always close games and tough games, but we were able to hang in there. We scored four goals and that should be enough."

Daymond Langkow also scored for the Flames, who improved to 29-20-8 and vault to sixth spot in the Western Conference standings.

Marcel Goc, Milan Michalek and Patrick Rissmiller replied for San Jose (31-17-8).

The Flames return to action Friday against the L.A. Kings.


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