CALGARY – Backed by a balanced offence, the Calgary Flames will attempt to steal a victory in Edmonton against the Oilers For the second time in less than a week.
After David Moss scored a back-breaking goal in the final minute of a 4-3 victory over the Oilers (1-1) on Saturday night, the Flames (3-0) hope their good fortune continues on Thursday night during a return visit to the Alberta capital.
“We’re making some mistakes, but in the same respect we’re doing some good things and we’re finding ways to battle back,” said veteran Calgary forward Craig Conroy.
In previous seasons, the Flames have had to rely heavily on scoring from captain Jarome Iginla and whoever plays on his line, but that hasn’t been the case so far this season.
“Everybody likes to score and everybody likes to be part of it,” said Conroy, who has chipped in two assists playing centre on a line with Curtis Glencross and Dustin Boyd. “A lot of years I’ve been around here, it’s been a one man show in Iggy. This year, we really talked a lot about how we can get a lot of contributions from different guys.”
All 18 skaters who have suited up for the Flames so far this season have recorded at least one point. Iginla has one goal and one assist.
“Since I’ve been here this has been the best start that we’ve had for a lot of different reasons and we want to keep that going,” Iginla said.
In addition to Moss scoring his timely goal against the Oilers on Saturday night, grinding winger Brandon Prust and journeyman defenceman Staffan Kronwall have also chipped in with game winners so far.
“Everyone’s chipping in at the right time,” said Kronwall, whose first NHL goal on Wednesday night led the Flames to a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Calgary. “So far we’ve been doing that. Hopefully we keep it going.”
In his first season behind the bench in Calgary, coach Brent Sutter has been taking a one-game-at-a-time approach.
“(Thursday) night becomes our biggest game of the year to date,” said Sutter, who’s not a big believer in basking in the glory of past achievements. “I’m not worried about what we did there two games ago. I’m concerned about what’s going to happen tomorrow night and how we’re going to play and give ourselves a chance to succeed.”
While the energy line of Eric Nystrom, Fredrik Sjostrom and Prust chipped in with three goals against the Canadiens, it was another solid effort in goal by Miikka Kiprusoff that secured the victory.
“Kipper’s been great for us,” Conroy said. “Give credit where it’s due, but we’re winning games and we just want to keep moving forward and we want to get better.
Kiprusoff stopped a 15-shot onslaught in the final period against Montreal and has now stopped 97 of 106 shots fired his way this season for a .915 save percentage.
“He’s had three solid games for us,” said Sutter, while hinting that backup Curtis McElhinney might soon get a start with the Flames playing games on back-to-back nights in Edmonton and then back in Calgary against the Dallas Stars on Friday night. “I’ve been really pleased with Miikka’s effort, but like any team, you need to have good goaltending. When Curtis gets that opportunity to get in there, he’s got to provide it too and we’re going to need both here and it’s going to happen soon.”
McElhinney, who suited up for 14 games last season compiling a 1-6-1 record, said he’s doing everything he can in practice to prepare for when he gets the call.
“That’s up to Brent and how he feels with how we’ve played and where Kipper’s at,” McElhinney said. “It’s been nice to get a little work in here and get a little sharper in practice. I feel good right now and hopefully it’ll come soon.”
Notes: Moss and Nigel Dawes didn’t practise on Wednesday for what was described by Sutter as “maintenance.” a Calgary had the lone power-play chance of the game against Montreal and converted as Iginla counted his first goal of the season. a The Flames currently lead the league with a blistering 71.4 efficiency rating (5-for-7) with the man advantage. “The power play has been unbelievable which is great to see,” Conroy said.