Flames shut party down

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:47 PM ET


 DETROIT -- The song blasts over the Joe Louis Arena sound system before every Red Wings game.

 "There ain't no party like a Detroit party, 'cause a Detroit party don't stop," Motor City native son Kid Rock shouts.

 Thanks to the Calgary Flames, though, the party is awfully close to shutting down for the summer.

 A Craig Conroy goal and a Miikka Kiprusoff goose egg has the Flames one win away from snuffing the Stanley Cup hopes of the mighty Wings and advancing to the Western Conference final.

 Conroy provided all the offence the Flames needed and Kiprusoff took care of the other end in a 1-0 Calgary win yesterday afternoon.

 Now the Flames can close out the best-of-seven conference semifinal tomorrow night at the Saddledome.

 "I can't wait to get back and get to that next game," Conroy said.

 True, there's not much time to relish the victory that gave the upstarts a 3-2 series lead but that doesn't mean there wasn't plenty to marvel at.

 Ask GM/head coach Darryl Sutter.

 "I think it's a performance, on a scale from one to 10, that's a 10," said the often- crusty bench boss.

 For once, Calgary came out with a strong first period at The Joe, outshooting their hosts by a 7-1 margin in the first 10 minutes.

 Then came a long spell where Kiprusoff stood tall, turning aside a flurry of shots for the rest of the opening frame and well into the middle stanza.

 That's when Conroy finally turned on a red light, completing a perfectly executed give-and-go with Jarome Iginla by roofing a short-side offering over Curtis Joseph's glove hand before the stunned gathering of 20,066.

 From there, it was time to hold on with the veteran Wings pushing for the equalizer.

 Kiprusoff, aided by a litany of blocked shots from his teammates, turned aside all 31 pucks fired his way en route to authoring Detroit's first playoff blanking on home ice since 1997.

 "Always good. That's how we need him," summed up Rhett Warrener, who returned to action after missing two games due to an eye injury.

 "That's why we love him."

 You can see why.

 Kiprusoff blocked 15 pucks in the final period alone while the Wings were pushing for the equalizer with extra fervour, including a brilliant save on Tomas Holmstrom's redirection off Kirk Maltby's pass and a trademark Brett Hull one-timer from the left faceoff dot.

 "You have to be a little bit lucky, too," said the humble netminder.

 "There were a couple of shots where

 I just tried to stay big and they just hit me."

 Also returning to action for the Flames was former captain Dave Lowry, who had been out since early January with an abdominal injury that required surgery.

 The defeat was doubly difficult for the Red Wings, who also lost their leader and captain Steve Yzerman when he was hit in the eye by a deflected puck midway through the second period.

 He was whisked to hospital and did not return to the game.

 Whether he'll be back in time for Game 6 remains to be seen but the Motown collection of superstars will have to regroup.

 "We were in the same position a couple of years ago heading into Colorado for

 Game 6," said Wings head coach Dave Lewis.

 "So we have to have the mentality that you have to win the game 1-0 but you have to accomplish that. Anything can happen in Game 7 but you have to get to Game 7."

 Knowing the Wings dispatched the Avalanche in 2002 thanks to back-to-back shutouts, Calgary is already bracing for the onslaught.

 "What's our secret? Nothing. It's just hard work," Warrener said.

 "That's all we do. We're certainly not done. What's three wins get you?

 "Nothing."

 True, but one more and Kid Rock will be able to extoll the virtues of a Stampede City party.


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