CALGARY - Fresh off the signing of a US $35 million, six-year extension, Miikka Kiprusoff turned in the type of performance that earned him the big pay day.
Kiprusoff made 39 saves and Jarome Iginla led the offence with two goals and an assist as the Calgary Flames won 5-1 over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. "I'm really happy with it, it's good for both me and for the Flames and I can't ask for more," said Kiprusoff, the former Vezina Trophy winner who signed the deal on Monday.
Kiprusoff, 31, would have become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
"I was pretty confident it was going to happen at some point. I knew they were going to sign me," Kiprusoff said. "I knew they wanted to keep me here. I wanted to stay here. I like it here. It's a good team and my family likes it here. I was positive it was going to happen."
Iginla, who signed his own long term extension with the Flames in July, was ecstatic about the news.
"It's a huge, huge move," Iginla said. "People always say he's in the top three but we think he's been the best goalie in the NHL the past few seasons. He's not only a great goalie but he's a very good teammate too and an easy guy to play with."
Kiprusoff was sharp from the opening faceoff making solid stops against David Legwand and Rich Peverley in the games opening minutes to the supportive applause of the sell-out crowd of 19,289.
The game turned in Calgary's favour when Iginla scored his seventh goal of the season at 3:59, just seven seconds into the Flames first power play opportunity.
Iginla started the sequence by beating Vernon Fiddler on a face-off. Exhibiting crisp and quick passing, the Flames moved the puck around the Nashville end with Daymond Langkow eventually zipping a pass to Iginla, who one-timed a shot past goaltender Chris Mason.
Matthew Lombardi, Kristian Huselius, and Eric Nystrom, with his first career goal, also scored for Calgary (6-3-3). The Flames are 4-1-1 in the first six games of its season-high seven-game homestand.
Alexander Radulov scored the lone goal for Nashville (4-7-0). The Predators began a five-game road trip with its fifth consecutive loss away from home, where they have been outscored 21-3.
"When we're on the road, it's us against everyone, we don't have any fans, it's going to take all 20 guys in this dressing room to turn this thing around, no one else is going to do it for us," said Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo.
One of Kiprusoff most timely stops came in the second period with the Flames up 2-0 and on a two-man advantage.
Legwand broke away down the right side but after side-stepping Dion Phaneuf on a nifty move, Legwand was thwarted on the dangerous short-handed opportunity by Kiprusoff who turned aside his shot from the top of the crease.
It was less than a minute later that Huselius got the puck in front of the Nashville net and mishandled the puck only for it to slide through the pads of a surprised Mason.
Kiprusoff's shutout bid was snapped 2:31 into the third period by Radulov on a Nashville power-play. Radulov moved into the slot and snapped a perfect shot into the top corner. The goal snapped a 177 minute, 44 second road scoring drought.
"We talked about taking (Kiprusoff's) eyes away from the puck and that was part of our game plan but obviously we didn't execute in that area," said Tootoo. "We've got to do a better job getting to the net and generating those second and third chances."
Calgary wrapped up the scoring with two goals late in the third, the first coming from rookie Nystrom in his fourth career NHL game.
Nystrom, son of former NHLer Bob Nystrom, went to the net down the left-wing and was set up nicely by David Moss for a one-timer.
"I'm sure my Mom did a backflip, she was watching the game back at home tonight," said Nystrom, 24, who was playing in just his fourth career game after making his Flames debut back on Oct. 10, 2005. "It's a big weight off my shoulders. I waited a long time to get a chance to score in the NHL or to even get a chance to contribute. It's been a lot of hard work."
Notes: It was Calgary's 100th consecutive regular season sell-out... Langkow played in his 800th career NHL game... Calgary D Anders Eriksson returned to the line-up after being a healthy scratch four games in a row. He was inserted for David Hale... Calgary RW Owen Nolan is still looking for his first goal as a Flame. The free agent signing has two assists in 12 games... The Flames defence pairing of Dion Phaneuf and Adrian Aucoin have been together for eight games and they are combined plus-19 during that span... The games final two periods of the game were played with just one linesman after Brian Mach left with the flu.