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Big turn of events against Ducks

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames
In a game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks Saturday, the focus was on Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

Two nights earlier, in Vancouver the former Vezina Trophy winner was pulled by head coach Mike Keenan in a 5-3 loss, the fourth time this season that the Flames No. 1 goalie had been removed from a game.That made for some interesting moments between media and the coach on Friday and filled the front pages of the Calgary dailies. So, enquiring minds wanted to know, how would Kiprusoff respond to all the attention, warranted or not?

It looked like it was all over for the Flames until Calgary captain Jarome Iginla put the Flames within one of the Ducks at 11:14 of the middle frame.  It was then a nifty goal courtesy of linemate Kristian Huselius that tied the game less than two minutes later. Huselius steals the puck from Ducks' defenceman Scott Niedermayer, wraps around the net and puts a quick clean shot top shelf on goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Iginla also had the game winner at 16:34 of the third for his 27th goal of the season.
200 - NHL games for Dion Phaneuf
30 - shifts for Craig Conroy
27 - goals for Jarome Iginla in 39 games this season
6 - shots on net for Jarome Iginla
10 - difference in shots on net. The Ducks outshot the Flames 16-6 in the first period of play
4 - hits for Adrian Aucoin
3 - points for Kristian Huselius (2g,1a)
2 - goals for both Jarome Iginla and Kristian Huselius
1 - shots it took for the Flames to tally their first goal
Kiprusoff (S); McElhinney
D Rhett Warrener (ankle);  F David Moss (leg);  F Marcus Nilson (healthy);  F Stephane Yelle (healthy)
Flames'  blueliner Dion Phaneuf chases Anaheim's Corey Perry behind the Flames net at 16:17 in the opening frame and lands a big hit on the Ducks' forward. The hit has so much power and momentum behind it, both Perry and Phaneuf are taken to the ice in a pile.
Flames' blueliner Dion Phaneuf  played in is 200th NHL game tonight...Tonight's match against the Ducks is Calgary's last meeting with the 2007 Stanley Cup Champions at the Pengrowth Saddledome this season...Prior to tonight's win, the last time the Flames beat the Ducks at home was January of 2007...The Flames have played both games against the Ducks this season on home ice...After only registering six shots on net in the opening frame, the Flames went on to outshoot the Ducks 35-32.
The Flames wrap up 2007 and ring in the New Year as they play host to Northwest Division rivals, the Vancouver Canucks at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Normally, after a sub-par performance, Kiprusoff responds with a very strong game.

The verdict?

On this night, Kiprusoff was not the issue. In fact he made a turning-point save after the Flames  team defence had a very suspect start to the game and dug a hole that they had to climb out of to stay in the hunt in the congested Western Conference standings.

After scoring on an early shift, Dustin Boyd potting his third of the season at 1:42, the Flames fell flat and collectively on their sticks and were outshot 16-6 by the surging Ducks, who had won four games in a row coming into the Hockey Night in Canada match-up.

Goals from Todd Bertuzzi, taking a feed from Ryan Getzlaf after he rolled away from Dion Phaneuf in the corner, and George Parros (the fighter's first of the year), put the Ducks up 2-1. It could have been 3-1 had there not been an early whistle on a loose puck put into the net by Corey Perry. Referee Tom Kowal blew the play down when he lost sight of the puck even though is was lying, wide open beside Kiprusoff just outside the Flames crease. It might have been worse had Kiprusoff not been sharp through the middle portion of the first period at a time when the Ducks were outshooting the Flames 10-1.

"That wasn't very pretty in the first period," said Anders Eriksson, the Flames defenceman who, late in the game made two very impressive defensive plays to keep the Flames in the game.

Kiprusoff, however, made a big stop on Chris Kunitz in the first and then stoned Rob Niedermayer on a second period breakaway that may have been the turning point in the game.

"Miikka was really good," said Jarome Iginla. "He made a huge save on that breakaway with score 3-1."

It gave Iginla and his teammates a chance to stage a comeback, which they did, scoring four unanswered goals to down the Ducks 5-3 and move into a tie in the standings with Anaheim. The Ducks love to tell anybody who will listen that they play a tough game. It burned them in the third period as they were on a constant march to the penalty box that gave the Flames momentum. In fact the game-winner came on the power play courtesy of Iginla, whose point shot hit Chris Pronger in front and re-directed into the to net.

A Scott Niedermayer power play goal -- through a screen courtesy of Chris Kunitz -- early in the second put the guests ahead 3-1. At the time there were few who would have thought the Flames would be able to muster much of a push against the Ducks. But they did.

Iginla, who was replaced for a couple of shifts on the first line by Boyd in the first period, responded with his 26th goal of the season just past the midway mark of the second period to bring Calgary back within striking distance at 3-2. Kristian Huselius, with some hard puck pursuit, stripped Scott Niedermayer of the puck behind the Ducks net and then patiently out-waited Jean-Sebastien Giguere and scored short-side, tying the game 3-3 just a minute and a bit later. At the time the shots on goal favoured Anaheim 22-14. But, rather suddenly, the Flames had clawed their way back into the game and, truth be told, could have had a lead had Adrian Aucoin been able to tip in a glorious opportunity with 17 seconds left in the period. Iginla and Huselius both finished with two goals, as Huselius added an empty net tally.

The Flames eventually outshot the Ducks 35-32 as they pumped 29 shots on net over the final two periods.

"I thought it was one of our better efforts," said defenceman Adrian Aucoin. "Obviously the first period wasn't what we wanted but the guys dug down and battled back."

Throughout the game Keenan had more line combinations than you could count. Eric Nystrom with Dustin Boyd and Daymond Langkow. Boyd with Iginla and Langkow. Matthew Lombardi with Owen Nolan and Alex Tanguay. Mark Smith with Langkow. Craig Conroy with Nystrom and Boyd. Nolan with Conroy and Iginla. And so on. As per usual, Keenan was looking for a spark. In Vancouver two nights prior, the pulling of Kiprusoff would have been seen as a move to provide a spark. On this night, like we said, the goalie wasn't the problem.

"I thought, as a group, after the first period, we all picked it up," said Iginla.

"It was," added Kiprusoff, "a rough start. We did a good job though and stayed with the game plan."

And in the end it is the result that counts.

NOTEWORTHY -- Flames F Daymond Langkow was struck in the foot by a puck in the third period but didn't miss a shift...and The Flames 2007 first round draft pick, Mikael Backlund helped end Canada's win streak at the World Junior Championship on Saturday when he made a perfect feed to Tobias Forsberg who buried the game-winning goal for Sweden with just seven seconds left...Veteran Stephane Yelle was a healthy scratch for the Flames...Iginla has goals in his last two games...Flame D Dion Phaneuf played in game 200 in his young NHL career...

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