Flames earn split

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:59 PM ET

 VANCOUVER -- With so many delicacies from the sea available on the West Coast, the Flames found the one they needed most.

 A serving of Kipper special. With an Iggy Pop on the side.

  Coming off a rare game in which he surrendered more than three goals, the pressure was on Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to provide a trademark performance akin to what he delivered in his incredible regular season.

 What better than a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks?

 Kiprusoff withstood a frantic third period, including a late shorthanded situation, and blocked 25 shots last night to backstop Calgary to a victory that evened the best-of-seven playoff series at one win apiece.

 It was Calgary's first playoff victory since May 15, 1995.

 "It's a lot of pressure on one guy. He let in five the other night and everybody's asking what's going on -- but over time, that's what we've got to look at," said Craig Conroy. "He was just awesome. He was back to Miikka, he saved us and that's why we love this guy."

 The clubs return to action tomorrow night at the Saddledome, where Calgary hosts its first NHL playoff game since 1996.

 Kiprusoff shrugged off the kudos.

 "It wasn't our best game last game but (last night) we played much better," he said. "We played tougher on the PK and it was a very good game for us."

 Certainly much more like the usual Flames game plan, which features plenty of skating and forechecking.

 Goals by Jarome Iginla and Matthew Lombardi only 50 seconds apart early in the first period proved key, stunning the Canucks and the frenzied sellout gathering of 18,630 at General Motors Place.

 Using his speed and strength to elude both Mattias Ohlund and then Artem Chubarov deep in Canucks territory on his second shift, Iginla cut to the front of the net and spun to his forehand.

 Chris Simon made contact with Canucks goalie Dan Cloutier's stick while going through the crease, though he was jostling with a defender, and Iginla wristed his shot into the cage.

 Lombardi's game-winner was the result of a fortuitous play. Vancouver goalie Dan Cloutier stopped a Rhett Warrener point shot but the rebound bounced into the body of defenceman Sami Salo. Salo, spinning while he tried to find the puck in his body, had the biscuit fall from him like a chicken laying an egg and Lombardi swooped in and immediately sent a shot through the startled netminder's legs.

 The only time Vancouver was able to beat Kiprusoff was on a second-period powerplay, although the Flames had reason to complain.

 Already with goaltender interference a hot subject, Ed Jovanovski went through the crease, collided with Kiprusoff and took him out of the play, leaving an open net for Markus Naslund to hit.

 Kiprusoff, who disputed the goal immediately, simply shrugged it off amid the post-victory hoopla.

 "I was really surprised (the goal was allowed). We won the game but hopefully they are going to call those," he said.

 "It doesn't matter now. We won the game and I don't worry about it now."

 Besides, the chance to take the series lead is at hand.

 "It feels good but now (the series) is 1-1 and we've got to try and make it 2-1," Iginla said.

 - - -

 CALGARY FLAMES: 2

 VANCOUVER CANUCKS: 1

 SERIES TIED 1-1

 GAME 3 TOMORROW IN CALGARY, 7:30 P.M. (CBC)


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