Notes, quotes and anecdotes from the Calgary Flames-Dallas Stars game Saturday at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
The Stars entered Saturday's game with the top penalty kill in the National Hockey League with an impressive 87.2 per cent success rate. They had allowed just 30 power play goals in 234 shorthanded situations this season.
They also entered the game having killed off 15-straight penalties -- four against Buffalo, six against Vancouver and five against Edmonton -- in their last three games. They stretched that to 22 kills, keeping the Flames at bay on seven power plays in downing the Flames 2-1.
"We had a huge advantage on the power play and didn't score which was a big difference in the game," said Flames head coach Mike Keenan.
The Stars had just one power play in the game.
It wasn't as though the Flames didn't have chances -- on a second period power play they had plenty of pressure and a number of great scoring chances but goaltender Marty Turco was there to save the Stars.
Special teams, and their importance, are not lost on the Flames. Captain Jarome Iginla noted that the Flames special teams have also improved since the start of the season.
"Our special teams are a lot better. At the beginning of the year they were dreadful," he said. "Our penalty kill and our power play were not coming through. They have been really improved. They are big parts of the game."
However, the power play couldn't find a way to score on this night on 11 shots.
"We had a lot of chances. A lot of good chances." said Iginla. "When you have that many power plays, in a one-goal game, that should be the difference."
FLAMES REMAIN CONFIDENT
The Calgary Flames are a confident bunch these days despite having a four-game win streak snapped in the 2-1 loss to Dallas.
And many in the dressing room believe it is because they are sticking within their system.
|THE TURNING POINT |
|Niklas Hagman circles out from behind the Flames net and rips a short-side wrister passed Miikka Kiprusoff giving Dallas a 2-1 lead at 2:28. |
|BY THE NUMBERS |
6 - shots for Jarome Iginla
9 - game goal-less string for Iginla
7 - power plays for the Flames but no goals
5 - shots for Matthew Lombardi
54 - total hits, including 29 for the Flames
26 - minutes of ice time for Iginla
|FLAMES ROSTER |
|DEFENCE PAIRINGS |
|Kiprusoff (S); Joseph |
|F Marcus Nilson and F Mark Smith (healthy); D Anders Eriksson (shoulder) |
|THE BIG SAVE |
|In the second period, with the Flames on the power play, Daymond Langkow picks up a rebound and quickly fires it at the Stars net. Marty Turco somehow gets his chest on the puck and, as he falls backwards into the net, manages to keep it from crossing the line. Acrobatic and athletic at the same time. |
|UP NEXT |
|The Flames travel to Edmonton for a game against the Oilers on Monday |
"I think over the last while we have really believed in our system. We want to stick to it. We want to work hard," said forward Owen Nolan. "I don't think every player is going to have a great night every night but the other guys are there to back them up. I think that is a big key to our success."
They are also not pressing panic buttons in the middle of games, something that was prone to happen in the early stages of the season. It seems these days even if they fall behind, they never fall right out of a game.
I think over the last while we have really believed in our system. We want to stick to it. We want to work hard - Owen Nolan
"We knew it was a veteran group and once we found our groove we knew we could stick to it. I think confidence is a big part of it right now," said defenceman Rhett Warrener. "Early in the year if we got scored on we might try and change things up. Now we know if we just play our game that, at the end of the night, we give ourselves a chance."
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Only the high-flying Detroit Red Wings have tallied more points over the last two months. The Flames, through December and January, produced a 16-4-5 record to catapult back into the hunt.
IGINLA DROUGHT CONTINUES
Flame captain Jarome Iginla, as everybody knows, entered Saturday's game against Dallas having not scored in eight games. It certainly wasn't from a lack of trying on Saturday but that stretch is now nine games.
He was everywhere in the offensive zone and, working with Daymond Langkow and Alex Tanguay up front on a second period power play, had a number of close calls.
"I'd like to score," said Iginla. "Tonight is the most chances I've had in a while but Marty Turco played really well. You just have to stay positive and go to the net."
Iginla had quite the battle all game with Steve Ott, the resident agitator for the Stars.
"It's just part of the game. He's trying to play hard and so am I. They are trying to stop and we are trying to get," said Iginla.
CLOSE BUT NOT CLOSE ENOUGH
Just before the midway point of the third period the Calgary Flames appeared to tie the game when Craig Conroy, after a set-up from Jarome Iginla, put a wrist shot into the Stars net.
However. Stars defenceman Nicklas Grossman had knocked the net off the moorings before the puck had gone into the net.
There was a mass of bodies in front, including Iginla who was rocked hard by pest Steve Ott. While the Saddledome crowd got up in arms, tempers flared, as it was the second time that Ott had roughed up Iginla.
From that point on there were plenty of scrums and plenty of face-rubs and gatherings around both nets.
It was another example of the Flames coming close but not getting the goal.
"We had some good chances but we were a couple of inches short," said Langkow.
He too, was robbed by Dallas goalie Marty Turco who made a sprawling save in the second period on a Langkow wrist shot. Turco made the save in his crease and managed to keep the puck from crossing the line when he trapped the puck on his chest as he fell backwards for what amounted to the save of the game -- and one that definitely helped he garner first star honours.
"I'm not saying it was in. From my angle it looked like it was in. But they reviewed it and it didn't go in," shrugged Langkow.
LINE JUGGLING WORKS
Head coach Mike Keenan is never shy when it comes to moving players around on lines. He did just that at the start of the second period, moving Alex Tanguay to the left wing on the Flames top line with Daymond Langkow and Jarome Iginla. The move sparked the Flames first goal of the game.
Tanguay burst into the Stars zone, fired a good, hard wrist shot on Marty Turco, who bobbled the rebound just enough for Langkow to crash the net and chip the puck over him into the Stars net to give the Flames a 1-0 lead in a very tightly contested game.
Tanguay, who had been playing on the Flames second line with Owen Nolan and Craig Conroy, entered the game having not scored in seven games. However, he now has five assists in his last five games.
The Stars were without Sergei Zubov, who stayed in Dallas to deal with a groin problem...Flames D Anders Eriksson missed his third game with a shoulder injury...Beginning Monday, when the Flames play in Edmonton, Calgary will play 13 games in 25 days...Calgary started both the second period and the third period with a man advantage due to late penalties to Dallas...These two teams have played three times this season and the visitors have won all three by one goal. This was the first game between them this season that didn't require overtime.