Conroy steals thunder

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

It was supposed to be Jarome Iginla's night: The night the captain set the record straight on who the franchise's all-time leading goal-scorer is.

Theo Fleury attended the game as a guest of the owners and a video tribute for Iginla was ready to roll.

However, when the horn blew on a spirited affair against surprisingly pesky Columbus, it was Iginla's running mate who stole the show -- a man who wasn't even supposed to be playing.

It wasn't exactly Bobby Baun playing with a broken appendage, but it was somewhat shocking Craig Conroy even suited up as a wonky knee forced him to leave Saturday's game and spend Monday having pictures of it to assess the damage.

Turns out the only damage he did came 45 minutes into a scoreless tie last night when Conroy scooped up an Eric Nystrom pass, cut wide around the defenceman and offered up a weak-side backhand that somehow fooled the league's leading shutout artist Pascal Leclaire.

Miikka Kiprusoff took it from there, making 39 saves and notching his second shutout, which may dispel schizophrenic notions there's a goaltending controversy in town.

"I don't mind (stealing Iginla's thunder) -- he'll have plenty of nights," laughed Conroy, savouring his 10th goal of the season.

"It would have been nice for him to break the record tonight and I thought he was going to. But he can have the next game."

In a season in which Conroy has contributed far less than he has in previous stints with the Flames, the former club captain has had to find other ways to earn his keep. Last night, the second-line centre did that too, spearheading a penalty kill that quashed six Blue Jackets powerplays and spending plenty of time on the ice in the final few minutes as the Flames held on for a 1-0 win.

And three days after a Phoenix Coyotes team doctor told him he may have a torn ACL, his right knee was just fine. Didn't even opt to wear the brace he was given.

"That was scary -- especially at my age to hear a doctor say it could be that bad," said Conroy.

"I got hit (Saturday), it was tight and sore the next day. Since then, it's been fine and the doctors said everything was okay."

While enjoying his time in front of the microphones after the game, Conroy was quick to bash the few who tried manufacturing a crease issue.

"It's someone trying to make a controversy out of nothing," said Conroy of a goaltending effort that saw Kiprusoff earn his second shutout.

"Curtis (Joseph) was brought in for a reason -- to give Kipper a rest. He did that and it's making Kipper even better."

He had to be better than most nights last night as the Flames were clearly outplayed, as evidenced by the 39-19 shot discrepancy.

Nothing ever seems to come easy to these Flames.

While Kiprusoff turned aside 18 shots in the first period and Kristian Huselius did admirable time on the penalty kill, Conroy completed the odd scene by playing the hero.

"I'm taking nothing but backhands from now on," said Conroy.


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