CALGARY – Although Dustin Boyd’s game-winning goal may have been lucky, the Calgary Flames victory Tuesday night was well deserved.
From behind the net, Boyd bounced a shot off the back of goaltender Hannu Toivonen breaking a 1-1 tie late in the second period and the Flames went on to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues to snap a four-game winless streak.
“I just tried to bank it off of him and I was fortunate that it went in,” said Boyd.
It was a bad break for Toivonen who was otherwise spectacular in the middle period as Calgary outshot St. Louis 20-2.
“It sucks, it really does, but it’s gone now, there’s nothing you can about it, you have to learn from it and see what I can do better next time,” said the Finnish goaltender, who finished the night with 34 saves.
Toivonen was not even supposed to play but was pressed into action when Manny Legace tweaked his knee late in the pre-game warm-up.
Marcus Nilson and Kristian Huselius also scored for Calgary (11-13-4). The Flames also snap a three-game winless skid at home where last year they were the only NHL team to win 30 games (30-9-2). They are just 7-7-3 at the Pengrowth Saddledome this season.
Lee Stempniak scored the lone goal for St. Louis (15-9-1). The Blues lose in regulation for just the second time in their last 11.
Trailing 1-0 entering the second, Marcus Nilson got the Flames back to even at 8:21 of the second on a gritty effort.
Toivonen made a great glove save stretching out to deny Daymond Langkow’s slapshot. However, with the rebound lying in the crease, Nilson darted in just jabbing the puck into the net before being crushed heavily into the goal from behind by hard-charging defenceman Eric Brewer.
“The puck was lying there, I dove for it and then I went into the post pretty hard,” said Nilson. “Even though we lost a few games recently, we’ve been doing a lot of good things. Just the pucks haven’t been going in.”
Boyd described Nilson’s goal as a key moment in the game.
“A huge goal for us and a big one for him,” said Boyd. “He needed one of those and the team needed one of those.”
St. Louis got a chance late in the third to pull even when they got their first power-play of the night with less than four minutes remaining. However, they couldn’t take advantage of Calgary’s 27th-ranked penalty killing and shortly after he exited the penalty box, Huselius scored on a breakaway to seal the victory.
“We had 17 out of the 20 dressed that played below average, and when you have that many players that are performing below average, you don’t have a chance,” said Blues coach Andy Murray.
Calgary’s second period domination was a 180-degree turnaround from how they started the game. In a shaky first period, the Blues took a 1-0 lead in the opening minute and ran up an 8-0 edge on the shot clock before Toivonen was forced to make his first save just past the 11 minute mark.
“I give the Flames credit,” said Murray. “They’ve been playing really hard for the past number of games; we’ve watched their tapes; we were prepared for that. We got off to a good start tonight then rested on our laurels after the first 12 minutes.”
Miikka Kiprusoff had 21 saves for the Flames.
“It was a close game all the way until the end of the third, so I knew I had to stay sharp,” said Kiprusoff. “I know I have to play better. Today I felt good and I felt confident.”
Keenan was complimentary of his goalie’s work after the game, adding he was especially impressed with how he overcame the early set back.
“Miikka played exceptionally well in the first period to keep us in the game,” Keenan said.
That initial goal came after just 36 seconds when Stempniak was left open in front and got his fourth goal of the season on a pass from Jamal Mayers.
Stempniak, who notched 27 goals in his sophomore season a year ago, has scored in each of the last three games after starting the season with just one goal in his first 22 games.
Notes: As a result of Legaces injury, the Blues had no back-up goaltender on the bench … Stempniak has scored five goals in 10 career games against Calgary… The Flames are seven points behind where they were at after 28 games last season (15-10-3)… Dating back to last season, Kiprusoff has gone 32 games since his last shutout… St. Louis drops to 9-3-0 when scoring first. They also lose for the first time when leading after the first period (7-1-0).