Scrappy shootout win for host Flames

Miikka Kiprusoff from the Calgary Flames makes a save on Mason Raymond from the Vancouver Canucks...

Miikka Kiprusoff from the Calgary Flames makes a save on Mason Raymond from the Vancouver Canucks to win the game in a shootout in NHL hockey action on February 11, 2012 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in downtown Calgary. (STUART DRYDEN/QMI AGENCY)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

CALGARY - Entertaining, yes. But nothing about it was pretty.

Then again, with all the injuries to top-nine forwards, you can’t expect many of the Clagary Flames’ remaining contests to be exciting offensive performances.

They know what they have to do to win. They know it’s about guts and grit and not so much glamour, and they did it well enough Saturday night to deserve victory over the Vancouver Canucks in the Hockey Day in Canada nightcap at the Saddledome.

Thanks to goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and captain Jarome Iginla, they earned it in the form of a 3-2 shootout decision.

With nothing settled after 65 minutes, it came down to a goaltender showdown.

Olli Jokinen slipped the puck through Roberto Luongo’s five-hole, Alexander Edler clanked one off the post, Alex Burrows found a spot between Kiprusoff’s pads and then Iginla did what he couldn’t do in regulation — deking Luongo out of his pants to seal the victory for the hosts.

To get to extra time, the Flames chipped out of danger, put the puck deep and tried their best to keep the puck off the sticks of the talented Canucks forwards for as long as possible.

And when that failed, they leaned — heavily and predictably — on Kiprusoff to bail them out between the pipes.

But keeping the Canucks off the board for 60 minutes is next to impossible even for a goalie of Kiprusoff’s calibre.

Even when the Sedin Twins take half a game to wake up from a slumber, the visitors have Ryan Kesler, David Booth, Mason Raymond and Alex Burrows to turn to.

Just managing to slip the puck under Kiprusoff’s pad from an awkward angle after Dan Hamhuis’ shot was blocked, it was Booth who got the game back to even ground in the third period after the Canucks fell behind by a pair of goals from Michael Cammalleri and rookie Roman Horak.

But you could feel the game changing from the Flames’ favour long before that goal crossed the line.

Cody Hodgson cut the lead in half late in the second period, during which the Flames didn’t manage a shot on a shaky looking Luongo over the final 10 minutes until a long-distance effort in the last seconds of the frame.

It almost seemed inevitable the Canucks would tie it as the Flames rocked back on their heels, looking every bit the injury plagued team hovering outside the playoff picture and wondering how it will manage to change their fate.

The evident hatred made things even more exciting. All the nasty elements of a renewed rivalry were there.

Andrew Alberts threw his weight around, taking a boarding penalty for a hit on Krys Kolanos and making Blake Comeau a little dizzy as he slammed into the Flames winger as he was falling along the boards in front of the penalty box.

He knocked Mikael Backlund out of the game in the aftermath when his much smaller opponent questioned Alberts’ motives on the Comeau hit. Getting tossed around as a result, Backlund wound up with a shoulder injury and didn’t return.

Even mild-mannered Swede Alex Edler felt the need to pummel Backlund earlier when his countryman raced in for the puck and took an Edler elbow up high.

Tim Jackman settled the score, sent out the next time Alberts was on the ice to exact revenge. The Flames tough guy came away bleeding but won the decision.

Thanks to their star players, they won the game, too

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane


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