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Flames' Ortio makes 36 saves, shuts out Canucks

by Kevin Woodley /

VANCOUVER -- It took goalie Joni Ortio two days to join the Calgary Flames after being called up from Adirondack of the American Hockey League. His clothes, sticks and contact lenses still haven't arrived, but fortunately for the Flames, his game made it.

Forward Mikael Backlund scored on the first shot of the game and Ortio made 36 saves in his first NHL start of the season to lead Calgary to a 1-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday night.

"I guess I needed that adversity," Ortio said with a smile after posting his first NHL shutout in his 10th career game. "Stuff happens and you just have to put it behind you and not let it affect you."

Ortio was called up on Wednesday after backup Karri Ramo sustained an upper-body injury against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday, but the 23-year-old didn't make it to Calgary until Friday afternoon after a snowstorm in Chicago resulted in his connecting flight being cancelled. Instead, he flew to Toronto and stayed there overnight before flying to Winnipeg and, finally, Calgary in time to dress as Jonas Hiller's backup in a 6-5 loss to the Florida Panthers on Friday.

"I know shorter routes," Ortio said. "It wasn't fun."

His bags never made it, but at least Ortio got new contact lenses.

"I got replacements so I could see," he said. "My gear made it, thank God. My sticks are on the way too, but I had some here."

Ortio's shutout was also the first by a Flames goalie against the Canucks since Miikka Kiprusoff defeated them 1-0 on Nov. 5 2005. It was fitting since Ortio is from the same hometown of Turku, Finland.

"When I was growing up, when I was this little I looked up to him a lot," Ortio said of Kiprusoff. "He's been a big influence on my career for sure. It makes it more special. I think it was about time someone shut out the Canucks here."

It was the first win for Calgary (22-18-3) in 10 games against Vancouver dating to March 2013, and first in Vancouver since December 2011. The win ended a three-game losing streak for the Flames and moved them two points behind the Canucks in the Pacific Division.

"Coming off losing three in a row and going on the road for five, it was big to start it off the right way," Backlund said. "We haven't won in this building for a long time so it was nice to get the win against one of our biggest rivals too. It was a huge boost to win this game."

Eddie Lack made 22 saves in a surprise start for the Canucks (23-14-3), who have lost two straight since a 5-1-1 streak. Lack, who got his first start in three weeks on Tuesday, got another Saturday because goalie Ryan Miller was sick, or rather, because Lack was less sick.

"For him not to play he's got to feel a lot worse," Lack said if Miller. "It wasn't very good, but we talked about it and got to an understanding that I probably had a little more energy so we went with me."

After the loss to Florida on Friday, the Flames were outshot 15-6 in the first period but converted a 2-on-1 chance 5:38 into the game.

Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau, who was named to participate in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition earlier in the day, led the rush into the Canucks end before passing to Vancouver native David Jones to create an odd-man situation down low. Backlund drove the net and chipped Jones' cross-ice pass in off Lack.

"A great backhand dish by Jones and I was lucky to get it in," said Backlund, who has three goals and five points in three games since returning from abdominal surgery that kept him out 29 games. "It was a little muffin that just got over his pad. That's how it goes when you are on a roll and when you're not, he saves that one."

The Flames almost made it 2-0 when center Sean Monahan hit the short side post from the left faceoff circle with 3:33 left in the first period, but got a break when Canucks counterpart hit the cross bar from similar range one minute later.

Ortio was good in his first NHL start since March 21, getting his left pad on forward Alexandre Burrows shot on a loose puck atop the crease 2:50 into the first period and forward Brad Richardson in close seven minutes later.

Ortio also got some good breaks.

Daniel Sedin hit the post on a shorthanded 2-on-1 slap shot early in the second period, and Jannik Hansen hit the crossbar on a one-timer from between the hash marks a couple of minutes later.

"All I gave them was the iron," Ortio said with a grin. "No, I got lucky there too, but sometimes you just have to earn your luck."

Vancouver almost tied the game with 4:29 left in the second period, but the goal was waved off because Henrik Sedin knocked it in with a high stick. Ortio made two blocker saves on Daniel Sedin from point blank range 30 seconds part, but the rebound on the second shot bounced high over his head. Henrik Sedin was behind the net, and he tipped it in past Ortio's but before it came down below the crossbar.

Sedin didn't disagree with the call, but thought Vancouver played well.

"We deserved a better fate for sure," he said.

Vancouver forward Derek Dorsett got wide around defenseman Dennis Wideman with 6:45 left in the third period, but couldn't beat Ortio in tight.

"Joni didn’t have it easy coming in here, tough couple travel days and didn’t get much sleep so it was great to see him have a great performance," Backlund said. "It pumps us up when he makes some big saves and without him, we wouldn’t have won the game."

After sliding across to get a piece of the first shot which ended up past him, Lack stopped the next 22 shots, including a good look for Gaudreau in the slot off a rush and a power play blast by defenseman Mark Giordano through traffic early in the third period.

Lack also stopped center Matt Stajan with his blocker on a one-timer from 15 feet after a turnover midway through the third period, but for the second time in Lack's past three starts the Canucks didn't score.

"I can't really blame the boys today. We had a lot of chances, but we were hitting the crossbar and the post,” said Lack, who is 3-5-2 this season but has a .942 save percentage since Nov. 9.

"I would trade all my stats for a better win-loss column,” he said. "But I've just got to stick with my game and what I believe in and hopefully the wins are going to come soon and they're just going to pile up."

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