Kiprusoff puts bad start behind him

Calgary Flames goalie goalie Miikka Kiprusoff watches the puck bounce out of the net on the very...

Calgary Flames goalie goalie Miikka Kiprusoff watches the puck bounce out of the net on the very first shot on goal by the Dallas Stars during Monday's comeback victory at the Saddledome. (Mike Drew/QMI AGENCY)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:46 AM ET

CALGARY - With a 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars in hand from the night before, Miikka Kiprusoff could relax.

More importantly, he was able to forget that shocking goal in the opening minute of Monday’s clash.

“It went in — what can you say?” Kiprusoff stated after an off-ice session Tuesday at the Saddledome.

Certainly, everybody who saw Kiprusoff flub Jamie Benn’s long wrister just 26 seconds into the affair was left speechless.

Kiprusoff, who has been the Flames most valuable player this season by a country mile, doesn’t often allow bad goals, especially something like that.

“I’d probably stop 99 of 100 of those, but that was kind of a knuckleball. The puck was on edge when he shot it,” Kiprusoff said.

“Sometimes it looks easier than it is, but I felt good from the start, and I knew we had lots of time to score and even it up after.

“As a goalie, you can’t worry about those things, otherwise, you’re not able to play.”

Don’t let the four goals surrendered to the Stars skew your view, Kiprusoff shut the door when the Flames needed him most.

It’s easy to remember how he sealed the deal late by stopping Stars sniper Loui Eriksson on a late breakaway, but Kiprusoff also regrouped in a hurry with a big glove-save on Benn a few minutes after that bad goal.

“That was an easier shot, actually,” Kiprusoff said. “I’ve been playing long enough, I’m able to handle a lot of things that happen on the ice.”

Kiprusoff can expect to see a lot more over the next while.

Starting with Wednesday’s crucial home-ice clash with the Los Angeles Kings (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960), bank on seeing No. 34 between the pipes in every game which matters, said Flames head coach Brent Sutter.

“Look at the situation we’re in — you’re got to run with your best. We don’t have an option right now,” Sutter said when asked whether he expects to have Kiprusoff in every remaining game.

“You’re down to the last five games of the season, and you need your best to be your best. We’ll be going with our best.”

Sounds good to the netminder, who is staring at a seventh consecutive NHL season with 70 or more games.

“I do whatever I’m told. It’s better to just think about (Wednesday’s game) and go from there, but if I need to play every game, I’ll play them all, for sure,” Kiprusoff said. “I’m good to go.”

Kiprusoff had better be good to go. The team’s playoff hopes will be on life support if they lose more than one game from this point onward — and even winning four of five may not be enough — so Kiprusoff must be at his best.

Talk about a lot of pressure.

“It’s been this way for us forever. We have to win and get points. Every game is huge, but you can’t worry about it,” said the Finnish goaltender. “They’re all must-wins, but that’s it.”

Except that the Flames practically need him to be perfect between the pipes.

“I try to think that way before every game, the whole year. Now, it looks different because there are so little games left. But I try to treat every game the same. It’s the same points months back as it is today,” Kiprusoff said. “Every time I put my jersey on, I try to stop every puck and do everything I can to win games.”

Besides, he now owes his Flames teammates a performance, which includes bailing them out, after a rare game in which he needed them to cover a big mistake of his own Monday night.

“Those goals happen. I try not to react to those — just keep doing my job, and that’s to stop the next one. You have to be ready for the next shot,” Kiprusoff said.

“It wasn’t my first wrister from far out that I let in, and probably not the last. Hopefully, not anytime soon.

“But it was a goal, and it’s too late to start crying.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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