SUN Hockey Pool

Parade's on hold

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:14 PM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- At this point you can't help but wonder what Curtis McElhinney did to deserve this treatment.

The Calgary Flames backup goalie received a rare start last night, and once again his team let him down in abysmal fashion.

No support in the defensive zone.

None in the offensive zone.

McElhinney was the victim of yet another dreadful effort by the guys in front of him and suffered the brunt of a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The hard-luck hometown product still is yet to win a NHL contest, albeit all too often it's been a result much like what was witnessed before the announced crowd of 18,108 at the RBC Center.

"Oh man, this is crazy," said Flames left winger Michael Cammalleri. "I've never seen anything like it. We seem to give up a million shots and not take the play to them every time he's put in the net.

"I don't know what the rhyme or reason is. I don't know how many times we can sit here and say we let him down. I don't know how many times he can keep believing it from us.

"What do you say to a guy after a game like this?"

McElhinney was not made available to the media after the affair.

Granted, the Hurricanes received a boost with the return of fan favourite Erik Cole following a trade from Edmonton, much like the Flames experienced the night before when Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold suited up for Calgary.

But the Flames didn't even put up a fight, certainly not in the manner befitting a division-leading team knowing its rookie goalie is yet to receive a ceremonial puck by recording a NHL victory.

Then again, that's nothing new. In six career starts, McElhinney's team has scored a paltry eight goals.

Any wonder why he has a career record of 0-6-1?

"I couldn't tell you why. We not only feel responsible, but it's hard to accept for him," said captain Jarome Iginla.

"He's played very hard. He's a very good goalie, works hard in practice and always comes out in these games, plays great off the start and gives us a chance to win and a chance to respond. He did it again tonight. We didn't help him out."

Half a minute into the game, McElhinney stopped Carolina's leading goal-scorer Eric Staal from point-blank range. He'd made the first five stops of the night within the opening 3:35.

When he robbed Rod Brind'Amour with a diving save, the shot clock read 7-2.

"A chance to be a game-breaker save, and unfortunately, we didn't respond," Iginla said.

Actually, the Flames did, but a brief flurry went for naught before Ray Whitney scored his first of three powerplay goals late in the opening period to start the rout.

"We saw a team come out and play with desperation," said head coach Mike Keenan, obviously not talking about his club. "They had a really great start, a very strong start. We stabilized the game to some extent, and when they scored the first powerplay goal, they seemed to pick up some momentum again and we couldn't recover."

Erik Cole, Sergei Samsonov and Scott Walker had singles for the hosts.

Whitney's hat-trick tally was the 300th of his career.

Iginla spoiled Cam Ward's shutout bid with less than four minutes remaining.

As for Calgary's netminder?

"We didn't give him much help. You look at the first five minutes, he bailed us out. It could have been three or four to nothing in the first five minutes," Keenan said.

The Flames (39-20-6), saw their six-game road winning streak snapped. Next up for Calgary is tomorrow afternoon's clash in Atlanta.


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