CALGARY, AB -- It took Miikka Kiprusoff just over a month to return to the Calgary Flames lineup.
And after a 13-game absence as a result of a knee sprain, the franchise’s winningest goaltender picked up right where he left off.
Kiprusoff made 32 saves while Blake Comeau and Jarome Iginla scored 1:39 apart early in the third period to break a tie and lift the Flames 4-1 over the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday night.
“He was huge,” Comeau said. “It was great to see him back. With a player that plays as well consistently as he does, he’s obviously a big boost for our hockey club. It’s a great morale boost for our locker room to see him in the game and obviously he made some huge saves for us. It’s great to see him back.”
Tied 1-1, a streaking Comeau snapped a shot past the blocker of San Jose goaltender Thomas Greiss at 2:57 for his first goal of the season.
Iginla followed Comeau’s goal with one of his own, taking a pass off the boards from Jiri Hudler and wristing it over the blocker of the Sharks goaltender to extend the lead to two.
From there, Kiprusoff slammed the door on the visiting squad en route to making 17 third period stops.
“I felt that [Kiprusoff] was solid right from the get-go,” coach Bob Hartley said. “He was seeing all the pucks and that’s such a good feeling for guys on the bench, for coaches, and probably for fans.”
Curtis Glencross hit an empty net for his eighth of the season in the game’s final minute.
Roman Cervenka opened the scoring 4:27 into the first period, burying a Jay Bouwmeester rebound into a virtually empty net to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
Joe Thornton, with his fifth of the season, tied the game in the second. After Joe Pavelski worked the puck out of the corner, he fed Thornton who tapped it behind Kiprusoff for their only goal of the game.
The win moves the Flames over the .500 mark for the first time this season.
“I don’t care about [being over] .500, it’s to be in the playoffs, that’s my main goal,” Hartley said.
GOAL OF THE GAME
Streaking down the wing, Comeau released a snap shot that beat Greiss to the blocker just 2:57 into the period for his first goal of the season.
SAVE OF THE GAME
Up 3-1 with just over three minutes left in the third, Kiprusoff slammed the door on Patrick Marleau, who one-timed a Marc-Edouard Vlasic pass that the Flames goaltender kicked out to preserve the 4-1 victory.
Comeau’s goal just 2:57 into the third period followed up by Iginla’s seventh of the season just 1:39 later gave the Flames a two-goal cushion that Kiprusoff would make stand to win in his return.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“I feel like no one puts more pressure on themselves than I do for myself. It was a good feeling to get on the board but more importantly it was nice to get the win and keep climbing the standings so if I can contribute that’s a good thing and if we keep winning that’s even better.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Chris Butler, who has four points in his last six games, played a season-high 22:28 against the Sharks, including 9:15 in the first period alone.
Defensemen Anton Babchuk and Cory Sarich and forward Steve Begin were scratched Wednesday against the Sharks. Paul Byron and Mikael Backlund remain out of the lineup due to injury.
The Flames take off to California for a three game trip starting on Friday against the Anaheim Ducks (8:30 p.m. MT, SNET-FLAMES) before a back-to-back set against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday (8 p.m. MT, CBC) and Monday (8 p.m. MT, SNET-W).