Sauve sparkles in losing effort

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:18 PM ET

EDMONTON -- His play between the pipes almost appears nonchalant.

Never looking flustered, harried or out of control.

Don't for a second, though, think his demeanour means Philippe Sauve doesn't strongly desire the backup job among the Calgary Flames netminders.

His performance last night before an announced sellout crowd of 16,839 at Rexall Place in the pre-season opener said it loud and clear.

With the the No.-2 job behind starting goalie Miikka Kiprusoff one of the few spots up for grabs at the Flames training camp, Sauve stated his case perfectly by stopping all 17 shots he faced in the opening 32-plus minutes of action of a Calgary 2-1 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

Behind a lineup that only had four forwards all but certain to be on the opening day roster and about as few defencemen, Sauve had to be on top of his game, making five stops in the opening few minutes. And he only got better from that point onward.

His biggest stop came from sliding across the crease in time to block Robbie Schremp's one-timer on an Oiler powerplay late in the opening period.

Sauve, acquired from the Colorado Avalanche for a draft choice, also denied Todd Harvey on an early second-period breakaway.

Brent Krahn, the 2000 first-round draft choice also in the hunt to play Kiprusoff's caddie wasn't exactly chopped liver either. Krahn stopped 14 shots in regulation and overtime and then the first three in the shootout before Ryan Smyth netted what served to be the winner.

It was a solid performance throughout for a Flames squad up against an Edmonton team that iced roughly a dozen skaters who'll be on its opening-day roster, including Chris Pronger, Ryan Smyth, Radek Dvorak, Raffi Torres and Shawn Horcoff.

Meanwhile, the Flames were going with a squad that didn't have any of their top three forward lines, nor top-six defencemen Roman Hamrlik, Jordan Leopold or Rhett Warrener.

Neither side dressed their No.-1 netminder. In fact, both parts of the Oilers tandem, Ty Conklin (slight groin injury) and Jussi Markkanen (broken collarbone), are nursing injuries.

Despite a lineup that was at an obvious disadvantage, the Flames hung in thanks to Sauve's strong performance and took the lead just past the midway point when Matthew Lombardi opened the scoring.

Playing his first game on NHL ice since suffering a horrific concussion halfway through the Flames playoff run of 2004, Lombardi finished a nifty three-way passing play just as time expired on a Richie Regehr penalty.

Jarret Stoll drew the Oilers even with eight minutes remaining, converting a one-timer from the point on his team's ninth powerplay chance of the clash.

Stoll, the former Flames draft choice was later given a major and game misconduct for checking from behind after leveling Andrew Ference.

Mike Morrison stopped 24 shots in team play as well as all four he faced during the shootout while going the distance for Edmonton.

The Flames play tonight in Chicago in the second of their eight pre-season tilts, with puck drop at 5 p.m. Calgary time (FAN 960).

- - -

EDMONTON OILERS: 2

CALGARY FLAMES: 1

SHOOTOUT


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