He was roundly criticized the last time he faced the Minnesota Wild, giving up four goals on 26 shots in Calgary’s 4-2 loss on March 17, and didn’t have to wait long to redeem himself. Kiprusoff was perfect on Tuesday night, and Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay scored in the shootout in the Calgary Flames’ 1-0 victory over Minnesota, snapping the Wild’s nine-game winning streak.
It was a frustrating loss for the Wild, who still managed to clinch a playoff spot with Colorado’s loss to Vancouver.
Kiprusoff resumed his dominance of the Wild, making 38 saves in regulation and overtime and then stuffing Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston in the shootout to deliver a victory for the Flames, who won their fourth in a row.
“He’s one of the best goalies in the league,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. “Everyone has a bad game here and there. The great goalies bounce back right away.”
After getting little help from his offence in regulation and overtime, Kiprusoff finally got a hand in the shootout.
Tanguay started things by beating Niklas Backstrom high on the stick side, and Iginla scored through the five-hole after Kiprusoff shut down Demitra.
That left it up to Rolston, Minnesota’s leading goal scorer, but after a fake shot right in front, Kiprusoff smothered the puck to seal the victory. It was his 21st shutout in a Calgary uniform, breaking Dan Bouchard’s franchise record.
“I did my job and it felt pretty good tonight,” Kiprusoff said.
The Flames entered the night looking to put distance between themselves and Colorado for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, and the players mobbed their goaltender after Rolston’s shot to celebrate.
The Flames have a seven-point lead on the Avalanche.
“It was good that we got the two points,” Tanguay said. “We’re in need of them right now.”
Minnesota dominated all game yet couldn’t get the puck past Kiprusoff, who entered the night 11-4-3 with a 1.70 goals-against average in his career against the Wild.
The Wild outshot Calgary 14-5 in the first period, but had nothing to show for it after one shot hit the post, another trickled through the crease, and Mark Parrish’s goal was disallowed.
The Wild thought they scored when Mikko Koivu blasted a slap shot from just inside the blue line that Parrish redirected past Kiprusoff. But after an extended review, officials ruled that Parrish played the puck with a high stick and disallowed the goal.
“I knew it was borderline, I wasn’t sure,” Parrish said. “I knew it was close. It was at that height where I really couldn’t go and yell at the refs.”
Kiprusoff was equally strong in the second period as the Wild kept the heat on. Midway through, Minnesota held the zone for well over a minute on a single possession that included four slap shots from defenceman Brent Burns, but Kiprusoff turned away every one.
“We just couldn’t figure out Kipper,” Parrish said.
For all the winning the Wild have been doing lately, they still trail Vancouver by one point for first place in the Northwest Division.
Tuesday night’s game kicked off a three-game grind for the Wild, who also host the Flames on Thursday before heading to Colorado on Saturday.
At the morning skate, Lemaire said this stretch will give him a barometer of the Wild’s readiness for the playoffs, and the extra intensity that comes with it.
The loss did little to temper Lemaire’s enthusiasm. He lauded his team’s intensity, puck movement and defence.
“I think it’s great the way we’re playing,” Lemaire said. “We just need a goal.”
Notes: Four of the seven games between these teams have gone to overtime. … One of the Wild’s Minnesota-born equipment men had name plates hung in some empty stalls in the Wild dressing room for Herb Brooks and John Mariucci, two Minnesota hockey legends. … Iginla’s shot with 37 seconds left in regulation was his first of the game.