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Kiprusoff leads Flames to win in possible farewell

Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 1:19 AM

CALGARY -- If Miikka Kiprusoff does hang up his pads at season's end, the Calgary Flames sent the 36-year-old off with a rambunctious ovation.

The iconic goaltender stopped 32 shots in Calgary's final home game of the season Friday to lift the Flames over the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Kiprusoff intends to make a decision this summer whether to retire or return next season. The win could have been his last in front of the home fans who have seen him backstop the franchise since being acquired from the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 16, 2003.

"I've been doing this for a living for a long time, even before I came over here, I was in Europe," Kiprusoff said. "That's been my life, nothing else. It takes lots from me. I have no plans."

Kiprusoff's dominance left the Ducks winless in four games, a span in which they've scored five goals. The Pacific Division leaders are 4-4-2 in their past 10 games after losing to the 13th-place Flames.

"I couldn't have cared less if we were playing a midget team or the Russian National Team," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We needed the win that should have been motivation enough."

Kiprusoff, who has a Vezina Trophy and a slew of club records to his credit, got off to a proper start in downing the Ducks.

Stopping five shots in the first three minutes and eight in the opening period, Kiprusoff -- the final link to Calgary's Stanley Cup Final in 2004 -- treated the crowd of 19,289 to a vintage first period.

Just 2:50 into the game, Kiprusoff stopped Ducks forward Emerson Etem on the doorstep after denying Andrew Cogliano twice a shift earlier. He continued his dominance over Cogliano at 12:25, flashing a quick glove to take away another chance.

"If you look at some other Canadian cities, it can be tough times for goalies," Kiprusoff said. "The crowd can be tough on them, but I've been lucky. I have the feeling always they're behind me, and that's huge for the goalie."

The Flames rewarded Kiprusoff's stellar play with a quick goal to start the second period.

From the boards, Lee Stempniak sent a seemingly harmless slap shot on net that Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller stopped but didn't control. Roman Horak grabbed the rebound and slipped his second of the season through Hiller for a 1-0 lead at 2:45.

Hiller redeemed himself with a save off Tim Jackman and the help of a post at 8:21. Breaking into the Anaheim zone, Jackman threw a tricky wrister on net, sidestepped a defender and grabbed the rebound, pumping another shot that struck iron.

Not to be outshone on his night, Kiprusoff flashed the glove once more for one of his 10 saves in the period by robbing Corey Perry cruising through the slot -- much to the delight of fans near the midway mark of the period.

"Calgary fans are intelligent hockey people. They get it, so there's a love-relationship between him and the fan base, and rightfully so," forward Mike Cammalleri said. "That's the result of it. It's beautiful to see. It's a special moment for him and awesome to be a witness to it."

Enforcer Brian McGrattan gave Kiprusoff some breathing room 3:14 into the third period.

McGrattan poked the puck past Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray at the Flames' blue line and outraced Francois Beauchemin to it before stepping around the defenseman. In alone on net, he showed poise by throwing a fake before sliding his third of the season between Hiller's pads to give Calgary a 2-0 lead.

"I've got soft mitts," McGrattan said. "I hide them here and there."

Kiprusoff made a pad save of a sharp shot from the point by Perry and another glove save on Souray, swatting away the blast just over five minutes into the third. He earned more applause from the crowd after blockering away Ryan Getzlaf's snap shot from the hash marks at 8:32.

Perry ruined Kiprusoff's shutout bid with 3:41 remaining, taking a cross-slot pass from Kyle Palmieri and beating the goaltender to the blocker to cut the lead 2-1.

The goal set the stage for Kiprusoff's late heroics -- he stuffed Perry's attempt after pulling the puck off the end boards with just over two minutes remaining, prompting a loud chant directed his way followed by a standing ovation at the next stoppage.

An empty-net goal with 50.8 seconds remaining by Roman Cervenka sealed the win.

Post-game, Kiprusoff earned a curtain call, an appropriate sendoff for the goaltender from the Flames faithful after not being able to send captain Jarome Iginla off in similar fashion at the NHL Trade Deadline.

"He deserved to get a moment by himself with the fans," forward Mikael Backlund said. "The fans love him. He loves the city and loves the fans. I was hoping he'd get the shutout but he had a great game as usual. It was important for us to let him have his moment with the fans."

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