MONTREAL – A physical game between Canadian rivals turned into a goaltending duel and it was Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff who got the better of Montreal’s Jaroslav Halak.
Kiprusoff made 25 saves for his first shutout of the season and Jarome Iginla scored in a fourth straight game as the Flames downed the Canadiens 1-0 on Tuesday night for their fourth consecutive win.
“It’s been better and better this season, and the guys are doing a good job on rebounds and keeping the forwards on the outside, and that makes my job easier,” said Kiprusoff after he picked up the 31st shutout of his career and posted his 200th win since joining the Flames from the San Jose Sharks for the 2003-04 season.
Halak, who had backed up Carey Price the previous three games, made 30 saves, but lost for only the second time in his last seven starts. The Slovakian also took the loss when the Flames downed Montreal 4-3 in Calgary on Oct. 6.
“Both goalies played great,” said Iginla, whose ninth of the season gave him five goals in his last four games.
The Flames (11-4-1) matched their season high four-game winning streak set in the opening four games of the season.
Montreal (8-10-0) was shut out for the first time this season despite playing what coach Jacques Martin described as a good game.
“We need to create more on offence, but you have to give credit to the Flames – they have one of the best defences in the league,” said Martin. “We need more of a presence in front of the net, but that’s something we’ll have to work on.”
The Canadiens wore their red, white and green uniforms from the 1910-11 season, which feature a maple leaf crest, as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations that culminate Dec. 4. But the retro look didn’t help them avoid a third straight loss on home ice and a fifth loss in their last seven games overall.
Taking penalties remains a problem, although they killed off all six Flames power plays. The Montreal power play, which went 0-for-3, has lacked punch with top point man Andrei Markov injured since the opening game of the season.
The first period was controlled by the Flames. Iginla took a feed from Olli Jokinen and fired a shot from the top of the right circle that flew past Halak at 14:55.
“Our goal was to be strong in the first period and take the crowd out of it,” said Iginla. “They’re a quick team. They’re maybe not the biggest guys, but they battle.
“It was a good, intense game. Maybe that’s part of being two Canadian teams. There were some big hits, fights. It was a fun game to be part of.”
Adam Pardy went at it with Travis Moen and former Calgary Hitmen forward Ryan White dropped the gloves with the Flames’ Eric Nystrom in the opening period.
Both Halak and Kiprusoff were sharp in the second, although the Flames goaltender got a break when he was deked by Scott Gomez on a breakaway only to see the Canadiens centre whiff on the shot.
“Oh yeah, he had me big time,” said Kiprusoff.
Early in the third ex-Flame Mike Cammalleri made a deft move to get past Cory Sarich and go in alone, but Kiprusoff shut the door as the Canadiens winger tried to beat him between the pads.
“He’s a tough player to play against, but I was able to stop him. That’s a nice feeling,” the Calgary goaltender added.
Kirprusoff has allowed only two goals in his last three starts, during which he stopped 87 of 89 shots.
The Flames continue a three-game road trip with games Friday in Buffalo and Saturday in Toronto. Montreal heads to Phoenix on Thursday and Nashville on Saturday.
Notes: Curtis Glencross sat out the first of his three-game suspension for his hit on New York’s Chris Drury, which brought Brandon Prust back into the Calgary lineup. Staffan Kronwall and Aaron Johnson didn’t play. … D Jay leach, picked up on waivers from New Jersey last week, saw his first action for Montreal, playing on a pair with Marc-Andre Bergeron. That bumped Mathieu Carle from the lineup. Kyle Chipchura and Greg Stewart were scratched. … It was the 100th time the Canadiens played the Flames since they joined the league in Atlanta in 1972-73.