The return of Roman

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:49 PM ET


 Miikka Kiprusoff, hockey cap tugged down over his brush cut and looking rather glum, watched the third period of yesterday's game from the end of the Flames bench.

 No three-star selection.

 No chants of 'Kip-per, Kip-per' from the red hoard in attendance.

 No post-game interviews.

 Former Flames No. 1 Roman Turek, who took charge of the cage in the third period, claims Kiprusoff couldn't be faulted for yesterday's 4-2 loss to visiting the San Jose Sharks despite allowing four goals on 16 shots.

 "I think it was smart for Darryl (Sutter, the Flames coach) to pull him out and just give him a little break and allow him to rest for (Game 5 tonight) because we play back-to-back," said Turek, who turned aside three shots in a relief role in the final frame, his first appearance this post-season.

 "It helps Kipper and doesn't hurt him at all (mentally). A little rest, a little break, helps him."

 It marked the first time Kiprusoff has been yanked since his trade to Calgary from San Jose last November.

 Kiprusoff quickly became a fan favourite and the netminder responded by leading Calgary to its first post-season berth in seven seasons.

 "For a goalie in the playoffs, every game you play under big pressure," said Turek, the Flames starter until Kiprusoff took over the role mid-season.

 "Every mistake you make, if they score on it, it can cost you the game.

 "So every game, goalies play under big pressure and I think so far every game he played well.

 "Today, there were just some bad bounces."

 One glance at Kiprusoff's stats will quell any suggestions Turek should start tonight.

 Kiprusoff boasts a remarkable 1.33 GAA, .947 save percentage and 6-0 record after allowing four or more goals, including three occasions in the playoffs.

 He pulled off the feat twice against Vancouver (Game 2 and 7) and once against the Sharks (Game 2), a trait San Jose coach Ron Wilson pointed out.

 "If he's had ... a bad outing by the number of goals against, he's bounced right back the next night or two days later and had a good game," Wilson said.

 Kiprusoff, despite having a clear view, was beaten to his glove hand on the Sharks' first goal, Mike Rathje's slapshot from the point.

 On the Sharks second tally, Kiprusoff was caught out of position after playing the puck behind the net and crashing into defenceman Robyn Regehr, allowing Jonathan Cheechoo to score unassisted.

 "Kipper made a mistake on the Cheechoo goal somewhat," Wilson said, pointing out the Sharks' third and fourth goals were powerplay chances with Kiprusoff left to his own devices.

 "But other than that, I don't know what he was supposed to do ... They got caught on a bad change on the Rathje goal and the other two were goalmouth passes on the powerplay and he didn't have a chance.

 "So we would never say we found a chink in Kipper's armour."

 Said Sutter, the man wielding the hook: "I think it was his weakest performance of the playoffs."

 Flames captain Jarome Iginla also expects the season's saviour to respond with an outstanding performance tonight in San Jose.

 "It gives him a chance to rest -- it wasn't his fault -- he's won so many games for us," Iginla nodded.

 "You can't blame Kipper," argued defenceman Jordan Leopold. "He's been there for us all year when we haven't been very good.

 "He's saved us a lot more than we've saved him, so it's one of those nights where you go out there and battle and sometimes it just doesn't happen. We need to get better and we're going to be better (tonight)."


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