CALGARY, Alberta (AP) _ After finally securing the Calgary Flames' first
playoff berth in eight years and moving into a tie for the goal lead in the
NHL, it was hard to wipe the smile off Jarome Iginla's face.
``It has been a long time, let's be honest,'' Iginla said after the Flames
beat the Phoenix Coyotes 1-0 Wednesday night. ``It feels awesome, we've worked
very hard this season.
``This is our first goal _ now we prepare for the playoffs.''
Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff notched his fourth shutout of the season,
stopping 27 shots. Kiprusoff's arrival in Calgary last November from San Jose
helped spark the club's significant turn of fortunes this season.
``It was fitting for him to get the shutout to get us into the playoffs,''
Iginla said. ``All year he's been standing on his head.''
Long-suffering Flames fans also paid tribute to Kiprusoff's efforts. They
gave him a game-ending standing ovation after he batted away a barrage of
Phoenix shots with just four minutes left in the third and forward Martin
Gelinas in the penalty box for slashing.
``Kiprusoff is a big part of the reason we are where we are this season,''
Denis Gauthier said. ``He's not a Vezina and Hart candidate for nothing.''
The Flames have 92 points with a two-game road trip in California to close
out the regular season.
Calgary is in sixth place in the Western Conference. All the Flames needed
was one game to secure the coveted playoff berth. And all it took was one goal.
Calgary started tentatively against a Phoenix club that has won just once in
But after 16 sluggish minutes, Iginla scored the only goal eight seconds
into a power play.
With a crowd in front of Coyotes goalie Brent Johnson, Iginla converted a
nice feed from defenseman Robyn Regehr.
It wasn't a pretty goal for Iginla, but it gave him 40 on the season and
enough to tie Columbus's Rick Nash for the NHL lead.
After Iginla's goal, the Flames and their fans had to wait another 44
minutes before making the important win official.
Calgary has dominated Phoenix this season, outscoring the Coyotes 11-3 in
four straight wins. The Coyotes dropped to 21-36-18-6.
Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said he was proud of his team for sticking with
its game plan through a long season.
``Some of them have never been in this position, so good for them,'' he
said. ``Let them savor this.''
After the game, Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris, who played five years in a
Calgary jersey without a single playoff game, had only good words to say about
his former club.
``I think it's great,'' he said. ``I was over there with a lot of those guys
when we went through the bad times, but finally now they have an opportunity.
``The rebuilding took a little bit longer than people thought but they've
got the right people in there right now for a good team and a good playoff