March 3, 2012
Late goal by Ducks' Getzlaf sinks Flames
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
ANAHEIM - If the Calgary Flames lose too many more games this season, they’re going to have to start looking toward the future more seriously.
They got a glimpse of what it might look like in net Friday night, with rookie goaltender Leland Irving easily his team’s best player in a spot start to give Miikka Kiprusoff a well-deserved rest.
Unfortunately, it looked a whole lot like the recent past, in which Kiprusoff does all he can to give his team a chance to win and they let him down.
Irving was outstanding, showing quickness, focus, sound technical skills and a calm demeanour in the face of the offensive talents of guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne.
It just didn’t mean much in the end, with the Flames failing to offer enough support to beat the Anaheim Ducks, dropping their 15th straight game at the Honda Center by a score of 3-2.
To Irving’s credit, it took more than 59 minutes for the Ducks to do it, with a Getzlaf blast snapping a tie in the final minute of play.
But that just made the loss tougher to swallow. And the low voices in the minutes afterward gave the clear indication of disappointment.
“Tough way to lose. Frustrating,” said head coach Brent Sutter, still in shock over the way it ended after Perry fed Getzlaf for the one-timer on an innocent rush that turned deadly.
“To give up a goal with 40-some seconds left ... We just all stood there and watched. It’s a tough way to lose a game. Big points here tonight we let get away on us.”
A wasted performance by Irving, whose sixth start of the season was a solid one despite the abuse he took.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s tough to take right now,” said the 23-year-old, who made 35 saves. “It was frustrating. To play hard the way we did and come back, play well in the third, tie it up and lose it with 40 seconds to go ... ”
It was quite an introduction to the historically stingy rink known affectionately by the locals as The Pond.
Facing 15 shots in the first period alone, Irving showed the kind of quickness, determination and technical skills that have helped Kiprusoff save the Flames’ bacon so many times in the past.
Just not at the Honda Center.
Offensive support was scarce through the first 40-plus minutes, with only Curtis Glencross connecting for the Flames.
Irving had no chance as Selanne feathered a perfect pass across the ice to Ryan after Flames defenceman Derek Smith made a poor decision at the offensive blueline which led to a two-on-one the other way.
Equally helpless in the second period as Jarome Iginla attempted to tie up Perry with a stick check at the top of the crease, Irving couldn’t get across in time when Getzlaf found his partner in crime in prime scoring position.
But the score could have been much worse.
Instead, Irving’s play allowed the Flames to keep it close. Alex Tanguay tied it up early in the third period by collecting a rebound and swinging it around Jonas Hiller’s pad, giving the Flames hope of at least a point.
“It was fun. It was a challenge. They created some offence and were able to get some chances down low,” Irving said. “That’s the excitement of playing in this league — I get to see what Kipper faces every night.
“It’s tough to take when you’re not getting any points out of it.”
Not through any fault of his own.
“He made some big saves. He was a wall for us all night,” Sutter said. “He had no chance on that (winning goal). You’ve got Ryan Getzlaf bearing down with a slapshot at the top of the circle, that’s a tough play for a goalie.
“Leland played great for us.”
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane