ST. PAUL, MN -- The Calgary Flames were hoping to keep on pace with the Detroit Red Wings with a road win over the Minnesota Wild but the boys from the State of Hockey had other ideas.
The Wild pulled out a tight 4-3 win over the Flames, keeping Calgary in 9th place in the Western Conference standings with 81 points.
Vesa Toskala was given the start in the game so Miikka Kiprusoff could rest before the rest of a tough stretch drive for the Flames but had to be replaced in the second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots.
If there was one Flames player that was predicted not to score in the remainder of the regular season, it was Steve Staios. The veteran blueliner hasn't found the back of the net since Jan. 16, 2009 when he donned an Oilers uniform, giving him an 87 game goalless drought. Some time on the power play ensured it wouldn't hit 88 games.
After a faceoff win by Daymond Langkow deep in the offensive zone, Niklas Hagman made a quick pass over to Staios who ripped a rocket of a one-timer at the net that bounced off a Wild defender and past Josh Harding.
"I'm getting an opportunity on the power play and Haggy's been opening me up for shots," Staios told Sportsnet in between the first and second period. "I'm just trying to get them through (since) we're getting good traffic in front. It's good to see one go in."
The Wild came back in their next shift with Andrew Brunette banking his sharp-angle shot off Toskala, evening the game up at 13:17. Minnesota was able to gain the lead at 19:18 of the opening stanza when Guillaume Lantendresse scored on the power play.
Toskala's tenure in net was over at 3:05 of the second period after former Flame Chuck Kobasew was able to knock over the Finnish netminder with a hard shot and then slip the rebound under his glove.
The opening minutes weren't friendly to the Flames as after the Kobasew tally as Langkow was the victim of a fluke accident. While standing in front of the net, Langkow was hit hard by Nick Zanon, shoving him into Marek Zidlicky and he fell forward just as Ian White had sent a hard shot towards Harding. The puck hit him around the top of his jersey numbers and he fell to the ice, landing on his head.
The Flames immediately waved the trainers and medical staff out and Langkow was on the ice for a long time before being taken out of the building on a stretcher. He was taken to a local hospital where he had full range of motion and was alert. He'll be reassessed in Calgary.
White snapped home his first as a Flame at 5:52 of the second period after Jarome Iginla opted to pass to White, who had jumped up into the play, instead of shooting. The choice paid off and brought the Flames within a goal.
Kobasew struck again late in the period, giving the hometown team a two-goal cushion heading into the third period.
The Flames turned up the heat in the third period when the red-hot Eric Nystrom scored the Flames third tally by screening Harding as Cory Sarich took a hard slap shot. The howitzer bounced off of Nystrom's skate, giving him his third goal in the last three games and 10th of the season.
Calgary kept pressing after the Nystrom goal but Harding shut the door in the final, desperate minutes of the game.
The Flames will fly back to Calgary for a quick one-game homestand. They square off against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday with the puck dropping at 7:00 p.m. MST on Sportsnet West & The FAN 960.
|WHY THE FLAMES LOST |
|The Flames came out flat for the matinee matchup and that lack of energy came back to haunt them. The spark wasn't there for the first period and a few minutes into the second stanza and the Wild capitalized on that. Their main offensive players were not clicking either. The Flames were dependent on goals from the defense corps and the fourth line and for any club to be success, the top two lines must be able to produce. Goaltending was also shaky, with Toskala allowing 3 goals on 12 shots. |
|GAME NOTES |
|The Calgary Flames stuck with the same lineup from Friday night, sitting D Adam Pardy, F Brian McGrattan, F Curtis Glencross and F Christopher Higgins. The coaching staff also opted to rest Kiprusoff and insert Toskala to help their starter deal with the intense stretch drive schedule but the team made a goalie switch early in the second period. The Wild scratched D Jamie Sifers, D Shane Hnidy, D Nate Prosser, D Justin Faulk and F Derek Boogaard. |
|TONIGHT'S DIGITS |
|87 - Games between Staios last goal. |
34 - Seconds between the first 2 goals scored.
3 - Goals for Nystrom in 3 games.
4 - Shots on net for Hagman and Iginla.
4 - Assists for Sarich this season. He hasn't scored a goal since Feb 14, 2009.
|"You’ve got these teams that are just clawing to get in, and they’re ready to go. The Wings have been bumped off before in the first round. That’s what we want to do." - Sarich on the team's mentality about the post-season. |
"In the West, especially, you get in any of those eight spots and you have a chance to knock off anybody and get on rolls. The seedings aren’t necessarily the most important thing. You’ve just got to be there. We did that way back when." - Iginla, referring to the playoffs and how the run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004.
|HARDEST WORKING FLAMES |
| || || || |
|Eric Nystrom |
The epitome of hard work, scored his 10th of the season, 3 hits.
| ||Steve Staios |
Opened the scoring, 3 shots on net, 1 blocked shot
| ||Jay Bouwmeester |
His best game since the Olympic break, +1 rating, 26:55 ice time.