NEW YORK – Little did Miikka Kiprusoff know that his best save of his 29th NHL shutout would come just 15 seconds into it.
A loose puck in front gave Ryan Callahan a prime setup, but Kiprusoff kicked out the redirection with the tip of his left skate blade. It was the first of his 31 saves that carried the Calgary Flames to a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Sunday night.
“They started hard, but we were ready anyway and we were able to keep it a close game all the way,” said Kiprusoff, who has three shutouts this season.
Kiprusoff was much busier than Rangers counterpart Henrik Lundqvist, who faced only 20 shots. Kiprusoff started for the 26th time in Calgary’s 27 games – including 12 consecutive – and led the Flames to their fifth win in six.
“I like to play,” he said. “I’m kind of used to it now and I know what I have to do to get ready night after night.”
Kiprusoff and Lundqvist are tied for the NHL lead with 16 wins.
“That got him on the mark. He was really sharp from that point on,” Flames coach Mike Keenan said of the early save.
Jarome Iginla and David Moss struck for the second straight game, and Rene Bourque added a short-handed goal with two minutes left. Iginla and Moss also scored in the third period of Calgary’s 4-3 comeback overtime victory at St. Louis on Friday that started a four-game road trip.
Moss has scored in four straight games.
“He has certainly become a lot more confident the last four or five games,” Keenan said. “It’s always that fine line of, ‘Play me more and I’ll play better, and play better and I’ll play you more.’ He’s earned it.”
The Rangers lost their third in four games, including a pair of home shutout losses – their only two regulation blankings this season. New York has been outscored 15-4 in that span and hasn’t won in regulation since topping Phoenix at home on Nov. 24.
“It was a way better game compared to Montreal,” Rangers captain Chris Drury said of Thursday’s 6-2 road loss. “If we get one early, make it 1-0 or 1-1, it’s a different game.”
Lauri Korpikoski nearly scored with 7:40 left, but Kiprusoff kicked out his drive. Callahan’s early chance led to the first of four failed power plays.
New York is 3-for-30 on the power play in its last eight games and has allowed an NHL-worst eight short-handed goals.
“We’re not playing well. We just have to put together a 60-minute game,” forward Scott Gomez said. “We have to find a way. It wasn’t good enough.”
Calgary has killed 26 of its last 28 short-handed situations over nine games – allowing both goals to St. Louis on Friday.
Iginla gave the Flames a 1-0 lead with 4:10 left in the second period, a frame in which Calgary was outshot 12-2. Dion Phaneuf, who heard derisive chants from Rangers fans still partial to departed forward Sean Avery, called for the puck and fired a shot that Lundqvist blocked.
The rebound found its way into the slot, and Michael Cammalleri pushed the puck to Iginla near the right post. The Calgary captain calmly swept in his 14th goal with a smooth backhander. Iginla has scored in consecutive games after going three without a goal.
“The last couple have been right in front,” Iginla said. “I’m just trying to go to the net, try to get shots and try to make sure I’m moving my feet and competing hard so good things will happen.”
Avery was suspended six games by the NHL earlier in the week after making crude comments in Calgary directed toward Phaneuf, who is now dating Avery’s former girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert.
Less than a minute after Iginla’s goal, the Rangers thought they tied it but Colton Orr’s deflection struck the goal post. The loose puck was shoved out of the crease by Flames forward Daymond Langkow as Orr, the New York enforcer who hasn’t scored in 82 games, raised his arms in a premature celebration.
Moss doubled the lead when after a Rangers turnover he deflected Todd Bertuzzi’s flip toward the net off both goal posts and in at 1:52 of the third.
Notes: D Wade Redden missed the game due to a right leg injury sustained Thursday at Montreal. Corey Potter was recalled from Hartford (AHL) and made his NHL debut in Redden’s place. … Iginla has eight goals and three assists in his last seven games against the Rangers. … The Flames hadn’t visited Madison Square Garden since a 4-2 loss on Jan. 10, 2006. … New York lost 4-0 to Florida last Sunday and was blanked in a 1-0 shootout win against Toronto on Oct. 17.