Kipper controls rebound

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:00 PM ET


 It's an impressive statistic.

 Netminder Miikka Kiprusoff has allowed four or more goals six times since joining the Calgary Flames.

 On five occasions, he regrouped and backstopped his club to victory in the ensuing game.

 Chance No. 6 comes tonight when the Flames renew acquaintances with the Detroit Red Wings in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.

 "We have so much confidence in him," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "You go around the room, there's no doubt we're going to get a great performance from him. It's our jobs to be really good in front of him and score some goals to win."

 History has shown they do need to score goals but not many.

 The only time Kiprusoff was beat for two goals in the follow-up match was the Game 7 overtime victory that clinched the first-round series against Vancouver.

 All the rest were one-goal games.

 "Every time he's been in, he's played great. He's given us a chance to win," said Shean Donovan.

 "He even gave us a chance to win in Game 2. We know, for sure, he's gonna come out and have his best game (tonight)."

 Undoubtedly, Kiprusoff -- who's only twice registered back-to-back losses as a Flame -- will have the expectations of a sold-out Saddledome crowd on his shoulders when the puck drops tonight.

 His teammates desperately need him to come up big.

 Kiprusoff, however, just takes it all in stride.

 "It's a huge game again. It's fun to come back here in Calgary but I'm going to try and play my own game again," he said.

 "I try not to think about it too much.

 "I'm just gonna be ready when the game starts."

 That's exactly what's expected by GM/head coach Darryl Sutter.

 Asked why Kiprusoff has had so much success, Sutter gruffly replied: "Because he's a good goalie. That's what they're supposed to do. One game doesn't affect the next one and that's the strength of our team, not just Kiprusoff.

 "We can deal with that and handle that really well."

 Handling the Wings has so far proven to be a difficult chore, however.

 Sure, the Flames skated away with the victory in the opener before being blasted by a 5-2 count Saturday.

 However, Detroit's high-end skill has been given plenty of opportunity to shine, especially in the opening period.

 Calgary has been outshot in the first period 28-5 in Games 1 and 2.

 Although both opening frames finished scoreless, it's a scary trend Calgary hopes to end.

 "It's embarrassing for us as a team," explained Craig Conroy of the team's ability to bounce back this season after surrendering so many goals the game before.

 "We pride ourselves on good defence, being a low-scoring team.

 "When you give up four or five goals, you have to perform.

 "That was the key in the first series."


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