That's more like it!

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:29 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- Finally, the real Miikka Kiprusoff showed up.

It was too late to salvage a win in what's ultimately a meaningless clash but at least the Calgary Flames star netminder arrived before the exhibition schedule concluded.

Kiprusoff, who has struggled in pre-season action this fall, had a slow start but at least found his form in the final 49 minutes of last night's 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

After surrendering a pair of goals within a minute of each other midway through the first period, Kiprusoff flicked on the switch and looked like the netminder of old the rest of the way, only beat by Jan Bulis' game-winner that can be blamed on the defensive coverage in front of him.

It couldn't happen soon enough for the Flames with the regular season beginning Thursday in Edmonton.

"It was better. I felt better," he said.

"I think I'm ready now. I think a couple of good practices and I'll be ready for the season."

The Flames conclude their pre-season tonight in San Jose and Kiprusoff likely won't see action.

Backup goalie Jamie McLennan believes the starter is ready to go.

"The thing about a guy like that is just getting in the groove," McLennan said.

"Tonight was the Miikka everyone knows. He was so solid.

I thought he was excellent."

The same can't be said for the rest of the Flames.

They took too many penalties, weren't accomplishing much of anything for long spells -- including the entire second period -- and gave a herky-jerky performance.

"There were parts of our game we were OK, there were parts we were average and I don't think we were collectively good for a long enough period of time to make a push," assessed head coach Jim Playfair.

Calgary captain Jarome Iginla opened the scoring 106 seconds in with a bullet of a one-timer from the top of the circle while his team was on an early powerplay.

It's Calgary's 10th powerplay goal in five pre-season contests.

However, goals only 51 seconds apart by Ryan Kesler and Josh Green put the hosts up by a pair.

From that point, Kiprusoff -- who went into the game with a shockingly high 5.22 goals-against average and 77.7% save percentage in 92 minutes of pre-season action -- got his game back together.

He needed to, with his team outshot by a 13-4 margin in the second period.

Defenceman Andrei Zyuzin also scored for Calgary.

The game also may have cost the Flames the services of Stephane Yelle, who left in the middle of the third period with an ankle injury after taking a low hit from Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa.

Yelle's status will be assessed today. Playfair didn't want to comment on the hit.

"Not until I look at it closer but, originally, I thought it was a questionable two minutes."

ICE CHIPS: Tony Amonte did not play. Defencemen Robyn Regehr and Dion Phaneuf also watched ... The Flames inked D Andrew Ference to a three-year contract extension yesterday, meaning he's signed through the 2009-10 season.


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