Kiprusoff made 24 saves Tuesday night for his second shutout in three games and third of the season as the Flames reeled off their fifth straight victory, 3-0 over the St. Louis Blues. Kiprusoff has been in net for all five wins and has played superb, looking like the goalie that won the Vezina Trophy last season as the NHL’s top goaltender. He has a 1.00 goals-against average and .965 save percentage over the streak.
“I’m happy how I’ve been playing and the team’s been playing better too,” said Kiprusoff. “We didn’t start as well as would have liked, but we’ve been playing better and better night after night and that’s a good sign.”
It was the 20th shutout of Kiprusoff’s career.
“Tonight, they had not too many chances, it was a pretty easy game for me,” said the Finn. “Pretty much all the shots were from the outside and I saw those pucks. It was a nice game to play.”
Daymond Langkow, Kristian Huselius, and Andrew Ference scored for the Flames (8-7-2), who were one point out of the Western Division cellar just 12 days ago. Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla each had two assists.
Calgary’s longest winning streak since winning eight in a row last November has the club in the top eight in the Conference after passing Vancouver, who lost Tuesday night.
St. Louis (5-9-3) lost for the fourth time in its last five. The Blues began a five game road trip, their longest of the season. Next up is Edmonton on Thursday night followed by Vancouver the next night.
“It was a bad loss for us,” said Blues veteran Bill Guerin. “The veteran players need to step up and perform better and we didn’t do that tonight.”
We have shake it off as best we can and get a win on Thursday.
Especially impressive of late has been Calgary’s play even strength. In the past six games that began with a shootout loss to Columbus, the Flames have outscored the opposition 15-1 while playing five-on-five. They have gone over 285 minutes since last surrendering an even strength goal.
“It’s a reflection of our team,” said Calgary coach Jim Playfair. “If you look at our five-on-five play, Miikka gives the team the confidence because our starting point is always with our goaltender out and the team builds off of that.”
Kiprusoff got all the offence he would need three minutes into the game when the Flames executed a pretty three-way passing play. Iginla zipped a cross-ice pass to Tanguay, who slid the puck back across the front of the net to Langkow for an easy tap-in.
The lead stayed at 1-0 until the second minute of the third period when Huselius struck short-handed. Doug Weight lost the puck at the St. Louis blue-line, and Huselius gathered it in and streaked in alone, ripping a shot over the glove of Manny Legace.
“We definitely hung around and gave ourselves a chance, but you can only hang on for so long before something breaks and it did,” said Guerin.
Ference rounded out the scoring with a power-play goal at 16:34 of the third.
“It seemed like every shot they had was a scoring chance and you can’t be giving that up especially in the third period in a one goal hockey game,” said Legace, who stopped 17 of 19 shots in relief of Curtis Sanford, who left the game at 13:34 of the first period with a strained groin. “First you give the guy a breakaway and he puts it off the bar, a great shot, and then there’s a breakdown on their power-play. The third period was tough.”
Notes: A pre-game ceremony honoured Calgary radio play-by-play voice Peter Maher and owner Harley Hotchkiss for their induction Monday into the Hockey Hall of Fame. … Maher’s daughter Tricia sang both of the national anthems. … Weight’s next game will be the 1000th of his NHL career. … Out of the St. Louis line-up was D Matt Walker (groin) and RW Dan Hinote (neck), who were both hurt Sunday night versus Edmonton. Making his season debut for the Blues was RW Mike Glumac… Blues LW Keith Tkachuk saw his seven-game points streak snapped.