Flames beat Red Wings, lose Kipper
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
|Curtis Glencross and the Flames score a big win over the Red Wings on Tuesday in Detroit. Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters
DETROIT -- The last time Miikka Kiprusoff missed time due to injury, the Calgary Flames were looking to snap a seven-season stretch without playoffs.
Jarome Iginla was in his first season as captain and Roman Turek and Jamie McLennan were also splitting the netminding duties.
Leland Irving was yet to start playing in the WHL.
For the first time since the middle of the 2003-04 season, the Flames are potentially facing a horrible reality -- no Kiprusoff to call upon after he suffered a "lower-body" injury in the second period of Tuesday's 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
"You take for granted how good he is, how durable he is and how consistent he is," Iginla said. "He's pretty much in net most of the time.
"We want him back as quick as he can."
The Flames said Kiprusoff will be re-evaluated Wednesday after they arrive in Columbus to face the Blue Jackets, stop two on their road trip.
Kiprusoff didn't need any help -- brace, cast or crutch -- when he left the dressing room.
There was no obvious incident where it appeared the workhorse netminder was hurt, but he was sent to the ice after Johan Franzen made contact with him after being bumped by Mark Giordano, and Kiprusoff appeared uncomfortable getting to his feet.
At least the Flames have some confidence in Irving after he came through when called upon for the first time this season.
The 2006 first-round draft choice stopped all six shots he faced in the third period to put the finishing touches on Calgary's second victory of the season before an announced sellout crowd of 20,066 at the Joe Louis Arena.
"Late in the second period, I could see Kip wasn't feeling great," Irving said. "He was kinda favouring his lower body. Coach told me to start stretching, that I might be going in, and that allowed me to prepare to go in for the third.
"There's always going to be nerves, and I think, especially in this case, that was a good thing. It helps get the adrenaline going, and I was able to play, not over-think things. Sometimes, that's a better way to go."
The Flames -- who received goals from Iginla, his first of the season, Curtis Glencross, Dennis Wideman and Giordano -- were doing everything to not let losing their most valuable player damper the night.
"Some pressure to come in on your first game of the year, but he did great. He looked confident in there," Iginla said. "A very good win for our team. We carried it over from our last game and did a lot of the same things. They had some momentum at different times, but they're gonna do that.
"I thought we did a great job of limiting that damage."
The Flames don't currently have another signed goalie in North America. Joni Ortio is playing in Finland, while both netminders in Abbotsford -- Danny Taylor and Barry Brust -- are on AHL contracts and would need to be inked to an NHL deal.
They could summon draft choice Laurent Brossoit from the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings on an emergency basis for Thursday's game in Columbus.
However, a trade is always possible.
"We'll know tomorrow," is all GM Jay Feaster would say when asked what they could do.
For now, though, Irving could bask in stepping into the fray and playing a perfect stretch. It's a nice story for a netminder who was third on the depth chart in Abbotsford during the lockout and couldn't seem to get his game on-track.
"This is 20 minutes of hockey and in those 20 minutes, the guys played great," said Irving, who posted a 1-3-3 record during NHL games last season. "I can't take too much credit for this. They were really good in front of me, keeping shots to the outside.
"I'm gonna continue to work just as hard as I have and keep improving."
Franzen scored the lone goal for Detroit.