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Islanders top Flames in shootout

Saturday, 01.12.2008 / 2:00 AM / Game of the Night

By John Kreiser - Columnist

Hours after being named to his first All Star game, Rick DiPietro helped lead the New York Islanders to a scintillating 5-4 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames.
Watch DiPietro rob Calgary's Dustin Boyd 700K 
For the second straight game, Rick DiPietro showed a sellout crowd in Western Canada why he deserved to be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team. This time, the New York Islanders gave him some help.
Hours after being named to his first All-Star game, DiPietro made 38 saves in regulation and overtime, then stopped two of three Calgary shots in the shootout as the Islanders beat the Flames 5-4 at Pengrowth Saddledome.
''You got a chance to see tonight why our goalie Rick DiPietro is going to the All-Star Game and how valuable he really is to this team,'' Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. ''If it wasn't for the play of him, we probably wouldn't have been in this hockey game.”
Through the first four games of the Islanders' five-game road trip, DiPietro has faced an average of 39.5 shots. The Flames fired a season-high 42 shots.
“We really rely on Ricky, It’s no secret” said center Richard Park, who got the deciding goal in the shootout. “We snuck two points out of here tonight.”
The Isles allowed 45 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss at Vancouver on Tuesday in which DiPietro outplayed All-Star Roberto Luongo. This time, he was much sharper than Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff, who was beaten three times in the first period and again late in the second, just 1:23 after the Flames took a 4-3 lead.
“We expect more from our goaltender,” Flames goaltending coach David Marcoux said. “In the first two periods, there was a little lack of alertness from the group and from Miikka.”
The Flames came out firing, outshooting the Isles 7-2 in the early going. But Mike Sillinger put the Isles ahead at 8:18 when he came in alone and beat Kiprusoff with a wrist shot ( 700K ). After Owen Nolan tied it at 15:42 ( 700K ), Trent Hunter’s tip-in 17 seconds later put the Islanders back in front ( 700K ) and Sillinger’s rocket past Kiprusoff on a two-on-one 69 seconds later made it 3-1 ( 700K ).
Calgary needed less than two minutes of the second period to pull even. Nolan got his second of the game at 1:01( 700K ) and Craig Conroy tipped Dion Phaneuf’s right-point shot under the crossbar 57 seconds later to tie the game at 3-3 ( 700K ).
Both teams had chances before Calgary took its first lead of the night at 16:32 when Dustin Boyd stuffed a loose puck behind DiPietro ( 700K ). But the Islanders quieted the sellout crowd at 17:55 when Marc-Andre Bergeron’s harmless-looking shot from the right point ticked Ruslan Fedotenko’s stick and sailed past Kiprusoff ( 700K ).
The Flames had a golden chance to take the lead late in the third period when Sillinger drew a double minor for accidentally high-sticking Phaneuf. But though the Flames controlled the puck for most of the long power play, they didn’t test DiPietro. The Isles had a power play in the final minute of overtime but were unable to capitalize.
Calgary’s Kristian Huselius opened the shootout by beating DiPietro with a backhander after a deke. But Sillinger, who was stopped by Luongo in Tuesday’s shootout loss at Vancouver, beat Kiprusoff with a wrist shot for the third time in the game.
''I learned from the other night with Luongo, I tried to wait him out and throw it upstairs and he just snagged it so easy,'' Sillinger said. ''Tonight, I went in with some good speed and caught him backing up. These goalies nowadays are so good, they're not going to make a move first. You're going to have to go in there with some speed and have in your mind what you're going to do.''
After Jarome Iginla’s wrister wound up in DiPietro’s pads, Park beat Kiprusoff with a wrist shot. DiPietro stopped Nolan’s wrist shot for the win.
''We had a good power-play tonight, we moved it around really well and had really good chances, but DiPietro played very well,'' said Iginla, who led all players with nine shots on goal.

''On another night, we get those same chances, we move it the same way, we'll score. Unfortunately, we didn't do it tonight.''
Kiprusoff finished with 21 saves amid rumors the Flames are one of the teams free-agent goalie Curtis Joseph is considering signing with.
Flames GM Darryl Sutter did acknowledge that Kiprusoff, who has started all but one of the Flames' 45 games, could use some time off. He also admitted that having a veteran backup goaltender can give a team more confidence as the playoff races intensify.
''If we have any problem with our goaltending, it's that he's played a lot,'' Sutter said of Kiprusoff. ''It's probably no different than anybody that's looking at an experienced goaltender, they're probably in the same boat as us. Experience gives you another chance if you are in the playoff race or you are fighting for the division title and it also gives everyone the confidence.''

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

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