CALGARY – Win or lose, the Calgary Flames could never be accused of taking goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff for granted.
Kiprusoff made 32 saves and Jarome Iginla had a goal and an assist Monday night as the Flames won 3-0 over the Minnesota Wild.
“We know what we have with Kipper,” said Jay Bouwmeester, who opened the scoring with a goal at 3:08 of the second period. “Even though we’ve lost some games, he’s kept us in there. It’s the same old story with him … it’s nice those nights you’re maybe not there that he can make those saves.
“He’s been pretty lights out lately.”
That would be all the offence Kiprusoff would need as he collected his third shutout this season and 37th of his career.
“We were not happy after that last game on the road trip,” said Kiprusoff, who stared down 24 shots in the first period of the Flames previous game in Pittsburgh, which ended up a 4-1 loss. “We know we have to work harder. Today, we were a hard-working team. This was a good game and a big two points.”
Kiprusoff’s best stop came in the second period, preserving the Flames’ two-goal lead. Martin Havlat zipped a perfect pass through the slot to spring a wide open Marek Zidlicky. However, the Wild defenceman couldn’t fool Kiprusoff as the Flames goaltender jabbed out a pad to deny Zidlicky’s close-in shot.
Just a few minutes later, with Minnesota on the man-advantage, Zidlicky again threatened with a hard slap shot from the top of the face-off circle, but Kiprusoff was there to get his chest in front of the rising shot.
Niklas Hagman got some insurance late in the third period for the Flames (10-12-2), who had lost four of their previous five on home ice and was coming off a 1-2-2 Eastern road trip.
Minnesota (11-10-2) has lost four of its last five.
Iginla set up Bouwmeester’s goal by carrying the puck behind the net, then threading a backhand pass diagonally through the slot to the Flames uncovered defenceman who fired in his third of the season.
Iginla’s 10th goal came on his own rebound. His original shot from far out deflected wide of the net, but the puck caromed off the end boards and out front for Iginla to tuck past a surprised Jose Theodore.
Iginla has racked up eight goals and 12 points in the past nine games after opening the season with two goals and eight points in the season’s first 15 games.
“I’ve been skating a little bit better, playing with a little more confidence and just playing. Trying to compete and play hard and not think too much,” Iginla said.
Minnesota centre John Madden was on the ice for both second-period goals and shouldered much of the blame.
“If I take back that shift and play a little bit better, I give our team a chance to win. I’m primarily to blame for the loss tonight,” said Madden, as he sat slumped in his locker. “The first goal they scored, I lost coverage down low. They got me running around a little bit and they were able to capitalize on it. Then, a misplayed puck by me again and next thing you know it’s 2-0.”
Jose Theodore got the start for Minnesota with Niklas Backstrom having surrendered 18 goals in his last three starts. Theodore finished with 28 saves on 31 shots.
Minnesota entered the night ranked second in the NHL on the power play, but came up empty on three attempts. Calgary went 1-for-3.
“Those are the moments you have to capitalize on but you have to give them credit, they had good penalty killing tonight and their goalie was very good,” said Wild captain Mikko Koivu.
The Northwest Division rivals will face-off against each other three more times in the next three weeks including Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Flames, 14th in the Western Conference, welcome the division-leading Vancouver Canucks to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday night.
Notes: Minnesota outshot Calgary 32-31. The Wild had been outshot in their previous 20 games. The only other time Minnesota has outshot the opposition this year was Oct. 8 when they outshot Carolina 42-37… Minnesota has scored just one power-play goal in its past seven games (1-for-19). … Calgary D Mark Giordano ranks second in the league in blocked shots (64). … Calgary RW Ales Kotalik (knee) could make his season debut as soon as this weekend. Kotalik, 31, has been skating with the team for the past week. He had three goals and two assists in four pre-season games before getting injured. … Minnesota D Jared Spurgeon, who was recalled Sunday from Houston (AHL), made his NHL debut. It comes on his 21st birthday.