SUN Hockey Pool

Keenan takes blame on night Kipper gets the hook

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

TORONTO -- Captain Hook returned for the second time in three games.

But Mike Keenan put himself before the firing squad.

The Calgary Flames head coach pulled No.-1 netminder Miikka Kiprusoff early in the third period of last night's 8-6 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, which should come as no surprise with the way the netminder was faring.

However, even though Kiprusoff allowed six goals on 22 shots, Keenan blamed himself for the goalie's sub-par performance.

"He'd like to have a better game, I'm sure, but I think it was my fault for even playing him tonight because of what he had to go through and the work he had last game," Keenan said.

"I take full credit for probably starting the wrong goaltender."

Two nights earlier, Kiprusoff was heroic -- despite allowing five goals -- in a 6-5 shootout victory over the Western Conference-leading Detroit Red Wings. In that contest, the Flames netminder stopped 40 shots, 26 of them in the first period alone when the team was shorthanded nearly six straight minutes, four of which was five-on-three powerplay time for the potent Red Wings.

By the way, Detroit outshot Calgary 28-4 in that period, which is the largest margin in a period in recorded NHL history. The Flames experienced more early penalty trouble last night when Daymond Langkow was handed a double-minor for high-sticking Pavel Kubina and drawing blood, and Toronto took full advantage with a pair of powerplay goals.

Kiprusoff never managed to get his game back in order, but Keenan kept him in there. The final straw was Nikolai Kulemin's early third-period goal that made it a 6-4 game.

Keenan admitted he thought about pulling Kiprusoff earlier.

"He looked a little bit fatigued and rightfully so," Keenan said. "In the context of the road trip, and what he had to do last game, I probably made a mistake by playing him."


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