Kipper lookin' Vezina-esque

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Miikka Kiprusoff was unbeatable.

Playing with confidence not seen since the 2004 playoff run, the Calgary Flames goaltender came up big with 33 saves to earn his first shutout of the season in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oilers last night at the Saddledome.

The effort wasn't lost on anyone.

Not the fans in the stands, who began chanting 'Kipper' early in the second period and cheered as loudly for his saves late in the game as they did for the goals.

Not the Flames' coach, who gave full credit to Kiprusoff in the win.

And especially not the star netminder's teammates, who awarded Kiprusoff the new silver hardhat as the hardest working Flame.

Rhett Warrener, who potted an empty net goal to conclude the scoring, was more than a little impressed.

"Awesome. That's what we want to see out of him every night. We need that. That's the game right there," said the Flames blueliner.

The game may in fact have been won during a full two-minute 5-on-3 Oilers advantage early in the second period, which the Flames killed in part because of a highlight-reel save.

A quick pass across the ice gave Oilers sniper Ales Hemsky an open net to shoot at. His shot was on target but a backward diving Kiprusoff got his paddle on the puck and steered it clear.

"If you work hard, you get lucky sometimes, too," Kiprusoff said of the miraculous save after the game, sporting that silver lid. "When (the net is open) you just try to do something and lucky for me tonight (the puck stayed out)."

Even Oilers coach Craig MacTavish was impressed, although not happy about it.

"He made an unbelievable save on Hemsky," said MacTavish. "That was an all-world save."

Whether it was kicking the leg out to stone Mike Peca, calmly stoning Fernando Pisani three times in succession on the doorstep or simply steering every rebound harmlessly into the corner, Kiprusoff looked like a different goalie than the one who began the season on the road.

"I felt good today right away, from the start," he said. "It's a good sign and we just have to keep working hard."

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter said Kiprusoff was the difference in the game.

"We're trying to limit opportunities but the way the game is now, the goaltenders are going to have to make some big saves. That's the bottom line," said Sutter.

"He did that for us tonight."


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