SUN Hockey Pool

Kipper gets nice company

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

Since Miikka Kiprusoff joined the Calgary Flames in November 2003, no other goalie has faced the Minnesota Wild.

Vesa Toskala was the perfect man to end that streak in Sunday afternoon's 5-2 win by the Flames.

Toskala, who the club acquired at the trade deadline in the hopes of finally finding the battery mate to play caddie for its star netminder, played for the first time since Jan. 30 -- when he was still with the Toronto Maple Leafs -- and stopped 27 shots.

"I was pretty calm," Toskala said of the starting assignment he found out about the day before. "I was focused not to overdo anything. I'm a pretty laid-back guy. It was just one game, but it was a good win.

"I started to feel (comfortable) pretty quick. I was ready to battle a little longer, but I got a few good saves and was surprised I felt that good."

On the surface, a 5-2 victory sounds like an easy time, especially when you factor in the Flames scored twice in the first three minutes before their netminder faced a shot, but Toskala was full marks for the win.

He even looked a little like Kiprusoff when he made a pair of clutch second-period saves on Wild defenceman Marek Zidlicky.

Zidlicky snuck in from his point position and was fed a cross-ice pass from Antti Miettinen. Toskala stuck out his left leg in the same manner Flames fans have seen Kiprsuoff do many times. He not only stopped the first shot but the rebound, too.

"It's nice to make big saves, but that was a little bit of desperation," Toskala said. "I just threw my leg out there, and thank God, he didn't go high."

With 17 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Flames will turn to Toskala a few more times.

His debut certainly will give head coach Brent Sutter the faith to do it.

"It's big to have a solid one-two tandem," Sutter said. "Vesa's been a No.-1 goalie for a couple, three years now in the NHL. It wasn't surprising to see him play that way. He made big saves at key times."

Plus, the players will have the comfort of playing before a back-up goalie they trust.

"Great game for him," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "He was real solid in there, made some great saves. They had a really good push in the second period and he held the fort. He looked great -- confident."


Videos

Photos