Kipper stops Canadiens cold

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

CALGARY - There had to be something Miikka Kiprusoff was pining for to warm him from the inside while out on the ice during the Heritage Classic.

Some Finnish delight certainly would have come in handy for the Calgary Flames goalie during his team’s 4-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Sunday evening at McMahon Stadium.

Maybe a Sima, a mead with spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

Or some Jaloviina, a form of cognac.

It could have been Lakka, which apparently goes well in a coffee.

“I’m an athlete. I don’t drink liquors,” Kiprusoff said.

We’ll let you decide whether you believe Kiprusoff doesn’t indulge in the odd libation or two.

What can’t be disputed is the athlete part.

The scoreboard may have been one-sided in the outdoor clash before 41,022 fans at the home of the CFL’s Stampeders, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a tough test for the standout netminder en route to posting the first shutout in NHL outdoor game history.

Take the first period, in which Rene Bourque’s powerplay goal staked the hosts to a 1-0 lead. Shots were 19-8 in Calgary’s favour, and the play was just as one-sided.

During a normal NHL game inside an arena, it’s no big deal to stand around so much, but when you’re dealing with temperatures on the cusp of double-digits below freezing, it’s a different story.

Especially when you throw in the extra waiting around before the game started and time spent waiting for crews to repair the fragile ice.

“I was a little nervous if they got some two-on-ones or something because I got pretty cold in the first (period), but I had some clothes under my stuff in the second period and they started shooting more,” Kiprusoff said.

The biggest problem with the cold was the toes.

“My hands were all right. That was one worry, it’s not fun to catch the puck with cold hands,” he said. “But we knew it was going to be a cold day and had lots of stuff to try before the game to stay warm.”

There were two solutions to beat the chill.

Well, other than some liquid to warm the gullet.

The first was to go sit on the heated bench during the TV timeouts.

“Those guys had a pretty nice setup there. It was warm,” Kiprusoff said. “They were nice enough to give me room to sit down. That helped a little bit.”

The other was the Canadiens finally forcing some action his way.

“We said we thought Kipper looked cold in the first period, so we thought we’d get him warmed up in the second,” said Flames defenceman Cory Sarich. “I imagine standing out there it would be a tougher test.”

Consider the test aced, especially while he held the fort through the first 10 minutes of the second period when it was a 1-0 game and the Canadiens were pressing.

Kiprusoff, whose struggles just over a month ago caused a kerfuffle which almost seems foolish now, delivered a 39-save performance for his fourth shutout of the season and first since Nov. 29.

“They came hard early in the second. They were shooting a lot,” he said. “Most of the time, we did a good job of backchecking and there were not too many great chances.

I felt really good. And it helped me to stay warm.”

“When we needed Kipper, he made the stops,” Brendan Morrison said. “We got off on the right note with Bourque getting the first goal, capitalizing on the five-on-three.

I thought we did a good job of moving our feet. When we got into danger, we did a good job of getting pucks out.”

Holding it all together was Kiprusoff.

“Early, he didn’t get a lot of shots but all of a sudden he’d get a point-blank shot,” Jarome Iginla said. “I think he made a couple of leg kicks early when he had to be stiff, but he looked great.

“It’s funny, as far as it is for players to get used to, it must be harder for goalies.”

Especially without a nip of something warming.


Videos

Photos