Trust-win game for backup

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

ST. LOUIS -- Miikka Kiprusoff was back between the pipes last night.

But a game like the one Curtis McElhinney had in Dallas Wednesday stopping 38 shots in a 3-2 OT win is exactly what the Flames brass and fans needed to see.

Confidence in him -- and his own confidence on the ice -- had been sagging.

"He responded to the challenge," head coach Brent Sutter said a day after the backup made an unexpected start when Kiprusoff came down with a bug in the morning.

"I challenged him as a coach. I wanted his level of play up where it needs to be, and yet the team's level of play where it needs to be playing in front of him."

Sutter said McElhinney's solid play would give him other opportunities to play. He would have made his first back-to-back appearance last night if Kiprusoff was still under the weather.

Injury list never ends

Blues defenceman Erik Johnson lists off names without having to think about it.

Paul Kariya, T.J. Oshie, Andy McDonald, Eric Brewer, Chris Mason and Manny Legace all were injured for chunks of last season. Johnson was out for the season. He's back this year, but again the Blues are dealing with injury woes.

He continues to list the current problems, with McDonald, Barret Jackman, Alex Steen, Oshie and Brewer early observers this season. Oshie and Brewer are back, but it's still been difficult for head coach Andy Murray to field a consistent lineup.

"Our team wouldn't know how to cope with a normal lineup," Murray joked. "It seems over the last couple of years, we've had a lot of key players out of the lineup."

Johnson, who missed all of last season with torn knee ligaments, isn't sure he's done listing the walking wounded.

"I'm sure I'm missing one or two," he said, looking around the room again.

One dog-gone big impact

Returning to the lineup last night after missing four games following an emergency appendectomy, T.J. Oshie was back to being a little pitbull on the ice.

The choice of words is especially fitting because the name Oshie has become a St. Louis favourite for pet owners.

More than 30 'Oshies' were registered with the city last year, but more than a hundred -- maybe even hundreds -- of pups with that name are walking and pooping in the greater St. Louis area thanks to the Blues forward's promising rookie season.

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA

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THREE STARS

AS CHOSEN BY STEVE MACFARLANE

1

MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF, FLAMES

Didn't seem like a guy who was fighting a bug just 24 hours earlier.

2

T.J. OSHIE, BLUES

Probably the most dominant skater on the ice.

3

DION PHANEUF, FLAMES

Booming slapper in overtime gives Flames a big win on the road.


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