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Kiprusoff, Flames cool off Avs with 4-2 win

by Aaron Vickers
CALGARY -- Miikka Kiprusoff celebrated his 35th birthday by ending the Colorado Avalanche's perfect start on the road.

Kiprusoff made 34 saves to lead the Calgary Flames to a much-needed 4-2 win against the Avalanche on Tuesday night. Rene Bourque scored twice as the Flames handed Colorado its first loss in seven road games this season and beat the Avs for the sixth consecutive time.

Kiprusoff evened his birthday record at 2-2 as the Flames ended their two-game losing streak.

"When you're over 30 you don't like those birthdays anymore," Kiprusoff joked.

While Kiprusoff said the win wasn't any sweeter because of the day it fell on, he suggested wining on his birthday was certainly better than the alternative.

"They're all huge," Kiprusoff said. "It's a big one. I think we had a pretty good start. It was a nice win and we played all right."

Though the Flames came out firing on all cylinders, out-shooting the Avalanche 12-1 in the game's opening 10 minutes, Colorado took the lead when Kyle Quincey scored on Colorado's second shot on goal. With Bourque in the box for tripping, Erik Johnson's blocked point shot ended up on the stick of Paul Stastny, who rang the post. Quincey, sliding down from the point, corralled the rebound and put it behind Kiprusoff at 10:50.

The Flames got even at 13:48 when rookie Roman Horak batted an Alex Tanguay pass over the glove of Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the seat of his pants for his first career NHL goal. The goal ended a 125:19 goal drought for the Flames and prompted a timeout by the Avs, who were being outshot 16-2 at the time.

"How can I feel?" asked Horak, acquired from the Rangers in an offseason trade that sent 2009 first-rounder Tim Erixon to New York. "It's my first NHL goal. I'll probably remember this forever. I feel awesome. My emotions are a little strong right now. It was great to be out there, especially with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay and they were both a big part of that goal. Hopefully some more goals will come."

Calgary continued to roll in the second, taking the lead when Lee Stempniak recorded his first goal as a Flame at 3:57. The former Phoenix Coyote forward backhanded home a Horak rebound.

"They came out hard, they were the hungrier team when the puck dropped, they were ready to start the game on time and we weren't," Avs coach Joe Sacco said.

Bourque made it 3-1 midway through the period on the power play. Defenseman Anton Babchuk, back in the lineup after sitting out three games as a healthy scratch, fired a blistering shot from the point that was blocked before getting to Giguere. The puck squirted loose to Bourque, who put it in the yawning cage for his team-leading fourth goal of the season.

Kiprusoff got some help from the post later in the period. Working off the goal line, Matt Duchene executed back-to-back spin-o-ramas to open up room for himself to get to the front of the net, but the Avalanche's leading scorer from a season ago struck iron, allowing the Flames to take their 3-1 lead into the third period.

Kiprusoff made right pad saves on rookie Gabriel Landeskog's blast and Milan Hejduk's rebound attempt early in the third to keep the margin at two goals. Colorado continued to press and finally beat Kiprusoff with 4:31 left when Ryan Wilson scored off a scramble. But Bourque wrapped up the win by hitting the empty net with 1:02 remaining.

Kiprusoff held off the furious push by the Avalanche by turning aside 19 shots in the third.

"That's the reflection of who we are, not the first couple of periods," Sacco said. "Calgary deserves some credit The third period, that's more of our identity. That's the type of game we like to play. We didn't have it for two periods tonight."

The late pressure wasn't enough for a seventh straight win away from Denver, which would have matched the franchise record.

"It's definitely frustrating," defenseman Shane O'Brien said. "We knew they were going to come out -- they always come out good at home and they're playing desperate. Obviously they weren't happy with their game. If it wasn't for Jiggy in the first, it could've got pretty ugly. Saying that, he kept us in there and we kept coming and we showed some character at the end but you have to play for 60 minutes in this League."

Calgary improved to 2-1-1 on its current six-game homestand, which continues Friday night against the St. Louis Blues.
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