SUN Hockey Pool

Same ol' story for McElhinney

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Things just don't seem to change for Curtis McElhinney.

Last season's hard-luck netminder, who finally won his first NHL game in the regular-season finale, was less than a second from turning a tough start into a victory last night.

But, in a scene all too reminiscent of disappointing days of the past, he was victimized just before time expired in regulation and then lost in a 5-4 shootout to the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place.

"It's so frustrating," said the back-up netminder after slowly starting to tear off his equipment. "I know it's pre-season, but -- at the same time -- the objective at any time is to win. And when you're, what, 10 seconds away from it, gosh, it hurts still.

"There's no easy way to put it. That really sucks.

"I still feel like I let everybody down."

The Flames were on the verge of winning with a comeback from a 3-0 deficit, but Daniel Sedin scored his second goal of the game with 0.2 seconds left on the clock to force overtime.

McElhinney was excellent in overtime -- he made big saves on Henrik Sedin and Kyle Wellwood while the Flames killed a penalty -- but Daniel Sedin's goal in the fourth round of the shootout was the difference.

The optimist will say McElhinney rebounded while his team found its form, but he had a tough time looking at it that way.

"Things are starting to come together, but you look at the game and there's plenty of evidence there's plenty of work to be done," said McElhinney, who stopped 30 shots. "Fortunately, we have a couple of games left and practices before we open up. Right now, it's about continuing to improve on good habits and make sure come Oct. 1, I'm ready to give this team a win."

Calgary has a 2-2-1 record in the pre-season. Vancouver (5-0-0) is perfect in the exhibition slate.

Wellwood, with a penalty-shot goal, Sedin and Mason Raymond put the Canucks ahead 3-0 early in the second period.

However, Curtis Glencross, Jamie Lundmark, Jay Bouwmeester and Olli Jokinen tallied to give Calgary the lead.

Sedin's flukey goal -- he received the puck because Sami Salo fanned on a point shot taken because the buzzer was about to sound -- erased all the joy.

"He (Sedin) fanned on it, too, and sometimes fools a goalie," said Eric Nystrom. "It's a tough break, but we didn't played that well early on in the game. We battled back hard and were there, but that's the way it goes."

Brandon Prust collected a pair of assists for Calgary, while Theoren Fleury also had a helper to give him three points in as many games during his comeback, as well as the shootout winner last week.

The Flames were slow out of the blocks, with only two first-period shots, and that was a bone of contention.

"The first half of the game, we were flat again," said Jokinen.

"I don't know the reason why. That's been a storyline pretty much every game."

The Flames sat regulars Miikka Kiprusoff, Jarome Iginla, Dion Phaneuf, Craig Conroy, David Moss and Dustin Boyd.

Vancouver's lineup didn't include Roberto Luongo, Kevin Bieksa, Mathieu Schneider, Ryan Kesler, Pavol Demitra and Mikael Samuelsson

Calgary's next pre-season action is tomorrow night in Edmonton.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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