SUN Hockey Pool

Kiprusoff can't save day

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

There were a lot of sighs in the Calgary Flames dressing room.

The biggest came from goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.

"I'm not happy about it, but what can you do? You have to look forward to the next one," said Kiprusoff, who stopped 40 of 43 shots before losing 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout last night at the Saddledome.

"It was a close game, and it's tough. Those division games -- we wanted two points."

Thanks to Kiprusoff and a handful of highlight-reel stops in the third period alone, it looked like the Flames would walk away with two points and an 11-point lead over their Northwest Division rivals.

Clinging to a one-goal lead with the seconds ticking away, Kiprusoff watched Kevin Bieksa's tying tally pinball off Matthew Lombardi's attempted block and into the net with 51 ticks left on the clock.

"I saw it all the way, and it touched something," Kiprusoff said. "Changed direction and went in."

One more puck got past him -- Pavol Demitra's shot in the showdown.

Kiprusoff deserved better.

Making a magnificent stop with his skate moments before Rene Bourque slapped one between Roberto Luongo's legs for a 3-2 lead, Kiprusoff followed up by robbing a pair of former Toronto Maple Leafs to protect the slim advantage.

Extending his body across the crease, he stole one from Mats Sundin with his glove.

But his best had to be reviewed to be believed.

Diving back to cover an empty net with the puck rolling right to Kyle Wellwood, the desperate Finn swatted it out of mid-air with his stick as it was crossing the goal-line.

With saves like those, it's no wonder guys like Bourque were also sighing about the lost point.

"He played his butt off tonight, like he does every night, and he gave us a chance to win," Bourque said. "Unfortunately that last goal with a minute left found a way through."

Snapping a seven-game drought with his 21st goal, Flames captain Jarome Iginla seemed motivated by the idea of leaving the Canucks further behind in the standings.

Scoring 9:51 into the game, Iginla was off to his best start in recent memory. Not a bad finish, either, as he moved past Al MacInnis into second on the franchise's all-time scoring list with an assist on Bourque's goal in the third.

Ryan Kesler responded with a shorthanded tally in the final minute of the first period and a powerplay marker early in the second to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead.

Daymond Langkow tied it up a minute after Kesler's second with his 18th of the season for the Flames. Unmarked at the side of Roberto Luongo's crease, Langkow got three swipes at a loose puck before jamming it inside the post at 18:09.

It wasn't an easy night for the goaltenders, who faced a combined 84 shots.

"Well, it was a pretty open game," Kiprusoff said. "We had our chances to win it but couldn't do it."

His goaltending gave them a chance and earned them a big point, but Kiprusoff wasn't about to brag about his highlight-reel stop on Wellwood.

"Yeah, it was a wide-open net, and I stopped it with my paddle," he said when asked to describe the stop.

The response drew a chuckle from everyone in the scrum except for a stone-faced Kiprusoff.

"I was lucky there, for sure."

Unfortunately for him, he got unlucky at the end.

"It glances off Lombo and goes in," said Flames forward Michael Cammalleri. "It seemed like that was the only way they were going to get one by him, didn't it? Open nets didn't matter, he was stopping everything.

"It's pretty amazing."


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