SUN Hockey Pool

Sutter won't pin loss on backup

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- Curtis McElhinney was the first to shoulder the blame.

His head coach wasn't about to pile on in what was already a hugely disappointing night for the Calgary Flames' backup goaltender.

Making the start with Miikka Kiprusoff pegged for tonight's battle against the Sharks in San Jose, McElhinney was beat five times in the 5-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

"Anytime we score four goals, you think you'd be winning the hockey game," McElhinney said in a sombre but busy dressing room as they prepared to make the quick trip north.

"It's a tough one to swallow right now.

"I just wish there was a little bit more effort on my behalf."

McElhinney made some great stops against a Ducks team that's still dangerous despite missing some of their key players due to injury.

He also allowed at least a couple he regretted, as lesser-lights like Evgeny Artyukhin and Troy Bodie got the best of him.

Bobby Ryan's sizzling winner nailed the top shelf, but was taken from a bad angle and proved to be the final stake in the hearts of a Flames team that didn't quit.

"He got all of it, but at the same point, that's a save you need to make in the third period, too," McElhinney said.

Protective of his players, Sutter wasn't about to bash a performance in which his team scored four goals for just the second time in 23 games, ending some talk off offensive woes.

But he knew McElhinney was upset with himself for not making them stand up.

"I'm not gonna pin anything on one guy, or one position," Sutter said. "There were some tough goals.

"That's disappointing to lose here tonight because we played a strong enough and good enough game on the road to win, but it didn't happen."

It wasn't McElhinney's fault entirely.

The defensive side of things certainly slid slightly backward for the Flames on the night.

But it didn't allow him to sleep any easier once they arrived in San Jose.

"We had the goal output, for sure," McElhinney said.

"It's just disappointing, my performance. I feel that way.

"I'd be hard-pressed to believe nobody else does, either.

"I would have liked a better showing.

"I feel bad I let the boys down tonight -- especially when they had four goals for me."


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