January 11, 2012
Flames burn Devils
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI AGency
CALGARY - Touted as legendary netminder Martin Brodeur’s likely last trip to the Saddledome, there were plenty of New Jersey Devils jerseys bearing his name and number spotted in the stands.
Hope they arrived early.
Brodeur didn’t last long protecting the New Jersey net, giving up a pair of softies to Calgary Flames defencemen before being yanked less than eight minutes into the opening period.
The Flames finished with almost as many goals as the Devils had saves on the night and the hosts took full advantage of the questionable goaltending from both Brodeur and backup Johan Hedberg during a 6-3 victory they probably didn’t deserve.
That and some solid netminding from their own star backstop, Miikka Kiprusoff, were the only reasons the Flames won.
“When a goalie’s not on, that’s a bonus for us. Any time you get two goals in the first few shots of the game, it makes for a long night for their team,” said Flames winger Curtis Glencross, who finished with a career-high four points (a goal and three assists). “It’s just one of them nights.
“That’s not like him, usually,” he said of Brodeur. “He’s one of them goalies that’s well respected around the league. He’s been around a long time.
“I’m sure he’s got a few more years in him yet.”
With a four-goal lead after 20 minutes and a 5-2 advantage by the second intermission, the Flames were in good shape. Jay Bouwmeester, Cory Sarich, Glencross and T.J. Brodie all slipped pucks past the Devils duo.
But their game dropped off considerably in the second period, as the Devils stormed back. Seeds of doubt were creeping in by the time Patrik Elias scored the Devils’ third goal with plenty of time left in the final frame.
But head coach Brent Sutter called a timeout and Jarome Iginla responded with his 501st NHL goal on the team’s first shot of the third period to lock up the two points and extended their home-ice winning streak to seven games.
“You almost get the sense it came a little too easy to us,” said Lee Stempniak, who netted the Flames’ fifth goal. “We just didn’t respond (to the expected push from the Devils.) We took our foot off the gas. I think, fortunately, we just scored on a lot of our chances tonight.”
Almost 43% of the shots they took went in. They’ll take than any night.
Meanwhile, Kiprusoff stopped 35 of the 38 shots he faced.
“I think the game could have been very different had we not scored on our chances,” said Stempniak. “Kipper played great tonight and we needed him to.”
Kiprusoff was game, but that expected goaltender duel just never panned out.
“Yeah. Definitely,” Stempniak said of the early end to Brodeur’s night. “He’s one of the best goalies to ever play. I think a couple of shots went in there that you were sort of surprised went in.
“Just the first shot, I guess — Cory (Sarich) had a great shot. It was well placed and hard and off the rush.”
Adam Henrique was the most impressive Devils player, dropping the gloves with Iginla, then adding a goal and an assist to finish with his first Gordie Howe hat-trick.
He nearly added a second goal, but Kiprusoff was there to make another key save.
Something neither of the Devils goaltenders were able to do.
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane