Jarome Iginla’s lone marker of the game, just past the midway point of the third period, stood up as the winner and the Flames held on to record a much-needed 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators before a crowd of 18,404 at Scotiabank Place.
Kiprusoff stopped 33 shots, including 17 in the final period, to record his first shutout of the season and the 18th of his career in a battle of two teams that have stumbled out of the gate and came into the game starved for offence.
“The win feels good. We know how good the Senators are we knew they were in a similar situation in wanting to get things started,” said Iginla, who struck with 8 1/2 minutes remaining to lift Calgary (2-2-0-0) to its first victory in Ottawa since Oct. 28, 1999.
Kiprusoff needed to make several tough saves on the night, especially considering Ray Emery was almost perfect in goal at the other end for Ottawa (1-3-0-0), which dropped its third straight game.
“It was a real good road win for us,” Kiprusoff said. “It gives confidence to the whole team.”
Emery finished with 27 saves.
“The effort was there, we just couldn’t bury it at key times,” said Emery, who started in place of the struggling Martin Gerber for the first time this season. “We definitely picked it up tonight compared to our last couple of games.”
Calgary came into the game tied for fewest goals-for on the season, managing just four in its previous three outings, and its power play was a frigid 1-for-25.
The Senators had fared only slightly better with seven goals through three contests this season and a 1-for-19 mark with the man advantage.
As a result, Ottawa coach Bryan Murray reunited his high-scoring unit from a year ago, Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson.
Despite getting their chances, particularly in the third period when the Senators enjoyed two late power plays, the trio was held off the scoresheet.
“It was a big effort from everyone,” said Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who registered the biggest hit of the night when he rocked Denis Hamel in the second period. “They’re a very skilled line . . . so it’s nice to be able to say we shut them out, but now we have to worry about Saturday.” The Senators went 0-for-6 on the power play. The Flames finished 0-for-5.
With both teams desperate for goals, they went on the attack straight out of the gate.
Ottawa’s first trip down the ice resulted in Andrej Meszaros wiring a shot past Kiprusoff but off the post and Calgary responded with an odd-man rush that resulted in a good scoring chance for the Flames that Emery stopped.
The game continued like that. Although the shot totals weren’t high, both teams had plenty of good chances in an end-to-end contest that featured plenty of hitting.
However, neither team could find a goal until Iginla finally broke the deadlock when he collected Kristian Huselius’ partially blocked shot and slipped the puck past Emery from the slot.
“It was two hockey teams playing desperate hockey,” Flames coach Jim Playfair said. “If you’re a fan, it’s a great game.”