GAME: Calgary Flames at San Jose Sharks.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference finals; Flames lead 1-0.
TIME: Tuesday, 9 p.m. EDT.
Miikka Kiprusoff hasn't had any trouble getting motivated in leading the
upstart Calgary Flames into the Western Conference finals.
After the opening game, it looks like Calgary's opponent in the series may
be providing even more incentive for the Flames goaltender.
Kiprusoff looks to drop his former team into an 0-2 hole as the Flames take
on the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion.
The 27-year-old Kiprusoff backed up San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov for three
seasons before being traded to Calgary on Nov. 16 for a second-round draft pick
in 2005. That deal has proved to be a steal for the Flames, who now boast one
of the hottest goalies in the NHL playoffs.
Kiprusoff turned away 49 shots, including all 18 he faced in the first
period, as Calgary jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the series with a 4-3 overtime
Kiprusoff's stellar play kept the Flames from being blown out early, as the
Flames were actually able to escape the first period with a 2-0 lead, and
defenseman Steve Montador scored 18:43 into the extra period as Calgary
continued its stunning playoff run.
"It's fun to be here against (the Sharks), but I don't think it makes any
difference," said Kiprusoff, who had his scoreless streak of nearly 170
minutes ended Sunday. "It's the (conference) finals. That's enough."
The Flames goalie allowed Alex Korolyuk's tying goal with 3:21 left that
forced overtime. Kiprusoff, though, made five saves in the extra period.
"We certainly wouldn't have been in overtime without Miikka's play,"
Montador said. "In the first period they were coming at us. They got some
chances, he kept us in (the game) and turned the momentum back to our way."
Craig Conroy had two goals and Krzysztof Oliwa also scored for the Flames,
who have won their last four overtime games this postseason after losing the
Calgary followed its second-round upset of Detroit, which included two
overtime wins, by stealing home-ice advantage from the Sharks in the opener of
the Flames' first trip to the conference finals since 1989. Calgary is three
wins away from returning to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since
that year, when it won its only championship.
Getting those three victories will likely depend on whether Kiprusoff can
maintain his high level of play. San Jose mostly outplayed Calgary in Game 1,
it just couldn't get enough pucks past the Flames goalie.
"I thought we carried the play most of the night," Sharks defenseman Scott
Hannan said. "Kipper kept them in the game. ... We had a couple of mistakes,
turnovers at the blue line. That's what those guys take advantage of."
San Jose will look to cut down on those mistakes, one of which cost them the
game. Montador's goal was the result of a slow Sharks line change.
The Sharks, though, know they can't do much more than they did in the
opener. In addition to firing away at Kiprusoff, they held Flames star Jarome
Iginla without a shot in regulation. Iginla, however, did set up Montador for
the winning goal.
"We've got more where that came from," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said.
"It's disappointing to lose the game the way we did, on kind of a detail
thing, a bad change. ... With 52 shots, I think we could have had 62 shots.
We'll play the same way the next game, take our chances."
Mike Ricci and Todd Harvey scored in the second period for the Sharks, who
have lost two straight home playoff games after winning their first five en
route to the franchise's first trip to the conference finals. San Jose dropped
its third straight overtime contest.
Veteran left wing Scott Thornton returned to the Sharks lineup after missing
five of the last seven playoff games with an undisclosed injury. The Flames
also got a rugged forward back in their lineup, as Chris Simon played Sunday
after missing 10 games with an injury.
The series shifts to the Pengrowth Saddledome for Game 3 on Thursday night.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Flames - 6th seed; beat Vancouver Canucks 4-3,
quarterfinals; beat Detroit Red Wings 4-2, semifinals. Sharks - 2nd seed; beat
St. Louis Blues 4-1, quarterfinals; beat Colorado Avalanche 4-2, semifinals.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla, 6 goals and 13 points; Conroy and
Iginla, 7 assists; Ville Niemenen, 29 PIM. Sharks - Patrick Marleau, 7 goals;
Niko Dimitrakos, 8 assists; Vincent Damphousse, 11 points; Hannan, 18 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Flames - Power play: 11.1 percent (7 for 63). Penalty
killing: 83.3 percent (55 for 66). Sharks - Power play: 13.3 percent (8 for
60). Penalty killing: 92.2 percent (47 for 51).
GOALTENDERS: Flames - Kiprusoff (9-5, 3 SO, 1.95 GAA); Roman Turek (no
appearances). Sharks - Nabokov (8-4, 2, 1.51); Vesa Toskala (no appearances).