CALGARY – In his first meeting against the team that drafted him, Nigel Dawes had a career night.
Dawes assisted on all three Calgary goals and Miikka Kiprusoff had 32 saves as the Flames beat the New York Rangers 3-1 Saturday night for their third win in a row. The highlight of Dawes’ first career three-point night was his set-up of Jarome Iginla at 16:47 of the second period, whose eighth goal broke a 1-1 tie and stood up as the game-winner.
Dawes burst into the Rangers zone along the side boards and threaded a pass to Iginla in the slot. The Flames captain snapped a shot inside the goal post past goaltender Steve Valiquette.
“That pass he gave me coming right down into the slot was a tough play to make, not everybody sees it. He put it right on my stick and gave me a lot of net to shoot at,” Iginla said.
Iginla has got off to a red-hot start in November with four goals in three games after scoring just four times October.
“I saw him at the last second there and I just wanted to try and get him the puck because the percentages of him scoring from there are pretty good,” said Dawes, tied for third on the team in scoring with 10 points (four goals, six assists).
Dawes played parts of three seasons with the Rangers before being dealt to Phoenix last season and eventually landing in Calgary this past summer when he was claimed by the Flames off waivers.
“Any time you play a former team, you’re going to get excited for it,” said Dawes. “It was one of those games were things went my way.”
Daymond Langkow and Rene Bourque also scored for Calgary (10-4-1). The Flames kick off a three-game road trip Tuesday night in Montreal.
Daniel Girardi scored for New York (10-7-1). The Rangers lost two of three on their three-game trek through Western Canada.
When New York returns to action next Thursday versus Atlanta, they hope to have Henrik Lundqvist back between the pipes.
With Lundqvist nursing an undisclosed minor injury and with the lengthy layoff coming up, coach John Tortorella opted to give Valiquette his second consecutive start.
However, Valiquette (2-2-0) was outduelled by Kiprusoff, who turned aside all 24 shots he faced over the last two periods to preserve the win and improve to 9-3-1.
“That’s a pretty good team right there,” said Kiprusoff. “They came hard in the first period and we had some troubles getting the puck out of the zone but after the first, we played much better and we were skating more. It was a good two points.”
“Our goaltender was outstanding tonight,” added Flames coach Brent Sutter.
In addition to a couple of close-in saves off Marian Gaborik and stops on dangerous chances by Enver Lisin and Vinny Prospal, Kiprusoff also got some help.
Late in the third period when Flames defenceman Adam Pardy fell down giving the Rangers a 2-on-1 rush, David Moss hustled back to tie up Ales Kotalik, who failed to get a shot on what was an open net.
Calgary finally got some insurance at 16:35 of the third when Dawes and Bourque worked the puck back and forth, with Bourque firing a shot past Valiquette giving the Flames a 3-1 lead.
“We had some good chances, for sure. In the first period, he made some good saves, we could have got the early jump on them,” said Rangers defenceman Wade Redden. “It was a close game all the way through, they just found a way to get that extra one.”
Tortorella said his team deserved a better fate.
“It was one of our better games of the year,” Tortorella said. “Our transition was good, our forechecking was good, the power play was good, Kiprusoff was the difference.”
New York tied the game 1-1 at 17:16 of the first. From the blue-line, Girardi flung a wrist shot towards the Calgary net that found the top corner behind Kiprusoff, who was screened on the play.
Calgary opened the scoring at 3:56 of the first period when Langkow deflected Pardy’s wrist shot past Valiquette.
New York was reduced to 11 forwards less than an minute into the game when Flames winger Curtis Glencross caught unsuspecting Rangers centre Chris Drury with a shoulder to the head. Drury dropped to the ice immediately and was down for a couple minutes before being helped off.
After the game, Tortorella called it a concussion and expressed his unhappiness with the lack of a penalty call.
“It was a missed call, it should have been a major, they missed it,” said Tortorella.
The Rangers also lost Brandon Dubinsky to an undisclosed injury early in the second period.
It was the first meeting between Sean Avery and Dion Phaneuf since last December when Avery, then with the Dallas Stars, was suspended for making controversial remarks about Phaneuf’s girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert.
The match-up was mostly a non-event with the two rarely on the ice together through the first two periods although early in the third, they collided behind the net and then later in that same shift, Phaneuf knocked Avery flying to the ice with a clean open-ice hit.
Notes: Calgary entered the night last in the NHL in power play chances (46) while the Rangers were number one in times short-handed (79). The Flames ended up 1-for-3 while New York went 0-for-3. . . Calgary has scored first in 12 of its 15 games (8-3-1). . . Craig Conroy has gone yet to score in 15 games, the lone Flames forward without a goal. . . Kiprusoff has gone 38 games since his last shutout on Feb. 12, 2009. . . Kotalik entered the night tied for the league lead in power-play points (12). Kotalik, a team worst minus-6, has just three points even strength. . . New York F Dane Byers returned from his one-game suspension.