February 19, 2012
Kiprusoff, Flames shut out KingsCalgary moves into playoff position with win over host L.A.
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
LOS ANGELES - Miikka magic.
The Calgary Flames are thankful for it, because the latest incredible outing from star goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff was the backbone to Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings which vaulted them into a spot in the top eight in the Western Conference standings for the first time this season.
Thanks to yet another brilliant performance from Kiprusoff, the Flames (28-22-9) are tied with the Kings with 65 points, but ahead having more victories and therefore officially own eighth spot.
“What can you say, we love our goaltender,” said Flames forward Michael Cammalleri, whose goal four minutes into the third period was the difference. “He makes the saves he should and we try an protect him and not have breakdowns, but hockey is a sport and you’re going to have breakdowns and he makes the saves he shouldn’t. Awesome.
“I don’t know if anybody’s playing better than him.”
The last time the Flames were actually in a playoff position was mid-March last year, after 73 games.
With Kiprusoff and Jonathan Quick between the pipes for both clubs, combined with the anemic offensive attack possessed by them, you knew it would be a low-scoring affair.
It delivered as advertised before the announced sellout crowd of 18,118 at the Staples Center, especially because of Kiprusoff’s 28-save outing for his fourth shutout of the season.
And he delivered highlight-reel saves every frame.
• First period. Kiprusoff used the heel-end of the blade on his right skate to trap a Dustin Penner re-direction from the doorstep.
• Second period. He reached back with his glove hand to snare a Mike Richards offering, leaving the Kings winger looking skyward.
• Third period. Rookie Jordan Nolan has a chance with a loose puck in the slot, but Kiprusoff stuck out his left leg for the huge save.
“He’s something special,” said Tom Kostopoulos, who set up Cammalleri’s goal. “He manages to turn the games around in our favour many times. I’ve never seen a goalie that can dictate the momentum of a game by saves, but he does it all the time
“We have to thank him, appreciate him and not take him for granted.”
The thank you card came when Kostopoulos fired the puck toward the net from the corner, and it caromed right to Cammalleri, who immediately snapped a shot past Quick for his 14th of the season and three in four games.
“People always say in tight games it’s going to be an ugly one, but sometimes it’s a pretty one, too,” said Cammalleri, who said they talked about such a play earlier.
The Kings (27-21-11), the league’s lowest scoring team, were blanked for the second straight game by a 1-0 score and shut out for the eighth time this season.
But the Flames won’t feel sorry for leap-frogging them into a playoff position.
“It’s a step,” said captain Jarome Iginla. “We’ve been battling hard chipping away, getting a point here, point there, win here, and we feel our game is going in the right direction and we’ve been getting better, so we want to keep it going, but it feels good.
“This is the start where we want to go and now we want to keep going. It’s going to be a race down to the end and bunch of teams in there, but tonight we’ll enjoy it and should.”
The Flames return home for a four-game homestand starting with a Battle of Alberta clash against the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday.