SUN Hockey Pool

Kipper shines as Flames beat Avs in Denver

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (R) is congratulated by center Olli Jokinen after defeating...

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (R) is congratulated by center Olli Jokinen after defeating the Colorado Avalanche during their NHL hockey game in Denver November 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

Steve MacFarlane, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:49 AM ET

DENVER - The groans began less than a minute into the game.

More followed frequently, from the Calgary Flames management staff sitting up in the press box and, no doubt, from those viewers watching from home.

Turnovers and poor decisions aplenty, the Flames still somehow found a way to pull off a victory despite the fact they often weren’t the best team on the ice Sunday night at the Pepsi Center.

Thanks in large part to goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who was terrific when needed most as the young Colorado Avalanche forwards poured on the pressure, the Flames overcame an early deficit to beat the Avs 2-1 and improve their record to 6-6-1 on the season.

With wins over the Detroit Red Wings and now the Avs, they went 2-1-0 on their road trip. Unfortunately, inconsistencies seem to plague the Flames from game to game, period to period, and shift to shift.

“At the end of the day, we played three road games here and gave up four goals against,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “Obviously goaltending was big for us all three games.”

Things didn’t look good when Paul Stastny got the Avalanche on the scoreboard just 34 seconds into the game, flipping a backhand shot into the net as Olli Jokinen sort of tried to put a stick on the talented Avs centre in the slot.

Tim Jackman did his best to spark the team with a scrap, dropping the mitts and slugging it out with Cody McLeod, but there wasn’t much intensity otherwise.

Even when the Flames tied things up a few minutes later — on a long screened wrister from defenceman Mark Giordano that found its way into the top shelf on the short side and must have caught goaltender Semyon Varlamov by surprise — there wasn’t the same energy the team seemed to have Thursday night against the Red Wings.

Seemingly always exempt this season was Kiprusoff, who stoned a handful of Avs into disbelief when the tying goal was so close at hand.

He also got a great assist from defenceman Derek Smith, who blocked a sure goal shortly after Curtis Glencross gave the Flames the lead in the second period.

“He was unbelievable again,” Smith said of Kipruosff. “They had a lot of pressure. A lot of shots.”

Smith has never played with a goalie as good and he’s loving it.

“He’s world-class. One of the best ever.”

If the Flames can start scoring some goals, they might actually be able to string some wins together.

While they allowed just four against over the three games, they only managed to score seven of their own, with four coming in their first win of the week.

“There’s no question we’ve got to start scoring some goals,” said centre Matt Stajan. “We know the goals are going to come.

“If we can start scoring goals, we can really start building something special here.”

The win was certainly big in terms of giving them a boost and finishing the road trip on a positive note, but the Flames have a long way to go to convince anyone they can build something special.

“The most important thing here is we were able to finish the trip off the right way,” said Sutter.

“We started it the right way and we finished it off the right way.”


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