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BIG. SAVE. DAVE.

Rittich comes up big in another win - and shows his posts some love with a little smooch

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

He emerged from the crease chaos with, in his mind, irrefutable proof - for all to see - in a glove-less hand, as if he held Willy Wonka's golden ticket triumphantly aloft.

Now David Rittich will be the first to tell you he didn't manage to subdue the Columbus Blue Jackets single-handedly.

But he certainly did his bit bare-handedly.

"Oh, Gio saved it," confessed the Flames netminder, who combined with his captain on an incredible moment of second-period door dead-bolting. "Then the puck was in my glove. So I was sure he saved it at the right time. 

"Without him it was 3-2 and you never know how the game can go."

And a professional's take on Giordano's goaltending technique?

"It was kinda old-school,'' replied Rittich, absolutely deadpan. "But I'm not surprised. Look at his age."

All during the ensuing video review to determine nay or yay, Rittich kept shaking his head, shaking his head, as if he could through sheer will make the call go Calgary's way.

"I have no clue what I did there," Rittich admitted. "I saw the puck. I was just happy we got it."

 

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The sequence that left everyone in disbelief began with the nimble goaltender down and doing the breaststroke across the blue paint to somehow claw away Josh Anderson's backhander. It concluded with he and Giordano double-teaming the opposite post, as Alexander Wenneberg set up Cam Atkinson at the side of the net for what seemed a sure thing.

"I think I got most of it and placed it in (his glove)," recalled Giordano. "Just desperation. The guy had an open side. I was sorta boxing Ritter out, so (the puck) hit me and fell into him.

"A lucky play, to be honest.

"Those ones usually find a way to go in. But we'll take it for sure.

"I love playing goalie in road hockey but you get shelled one too many times when you're on the ice as a young guy and …"
Best leave that to those in the know.

 

Video: "He stopped that ... Nagano '98"

 

And Big-Save Dave, as he's known hereabouts, certainly provided the knowledge, producing 31 saves in a 4-2 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets to increase the lead of his Flames atop the Pacific Division and Western Conference over the idle San Jose Sharks to three points.

"There wasn't a lot lying around. I thought he was real tight," said coach Bill Peters. "I thought he was real good. He played the puck appropriately most of the time. I thought he was seeing it, tracking the puck real well and didn't give up any rebounds."

The Jackets, fighting tooth and nail, hammer and tong in their own claustrophobic Eastern Conference playoff battle, inundated Rittich with a dozen of the 18 combined shots through the third period, and inched to within 3-2 at 5:28 when Oliver Bjorkstrand picked a spot over the goalie's left shoulder and put the puck there.

From then on, though, the fun-loving Czech took matters into his own hands.

"I thought there were a few he made look easy that were difficult saves," praised Giordano.

"They had a push, for sure. They're a desperate team. A really big, strong team that plays well. Their D get in the rush. I thought we dug deep."

 

Video: CBJ@CGY: Rittich makes pair of saves on Dzingel

 

The old good-to-be-lucky philosophy certainly applied when discussing Rittich's evening. The Jackets hit iron four times, a couple of those loudly enough to be heard as far north as Airdrie.

As has become a sort of custom, Rittich repaid his pals with a smooch or two through his mask.

For the posts, the kiss.

For the Jackets, the kiss-off.

"You should ask the net about it," he joked. "But they hit the post four times. So I was lucky today."

 

Video: CBJ@CGY: Rittich kisses the post after shot hits it

 

The post weren't Rittich's only allies. The Flames were credited with 14 blocked shots, including six from Travis Hamonic and a frightening one off the helmet of Noah Hanifin.

"Hammer did a lot of blocked shots. Laser (Curtis Lazar) a big blocked shot. Gio, big blocked shots.

"It's about the team. It's not about one guy. And I think we did a better job than them.

"It was kind of like a playoff game. They playing for everything. They want to make the playoffs, we want to be prepared for the playoffs.

"It was the kind of game we needed. We played well. It's a good feeling.

"I'm taking every single game like a new game, starting 0-0.

"I just want to win."
 

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