TORONTO – Everything about Brent Sutter’s body language suggested he was discussing a Calgary Flames loss.
Shoulders slightly slumped, the coach carefully chose his words while summing up the end of the team’s successful three game road trip through Eastern Canada. Sure, the Flames had just beaten the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2, but there were no smiles to be found.
“Yeah, I’m (upset),” Sutter said Saturday. “I wasn’t pleased at all tonight.”
He’d seen too many problems crop up to properly enjoy the team’s latest victory – namely, the Flames had eased up after taking an early 2-0 lead and didn’t create enough scoring chances through 40 minutes.
Yet, even still, it will go down as comfortable win on the scoreboard thanks in large part to 38 saves from Miikka Kiprusoff and two goals from captain Jarome Iginla.
“The positives here tonight is that we got two points, our goaltender played very well, the captain scored two goals and we got a goal on our power play,” said Sutter. “Other than that, it’s wasn’t a great game on our behalf. We were fortunate to get a win.”
On that point, his Maple Leafs counterpart was in full agreement.
Ron Wilson endured another night of frustration while watching his team fall behind 2-0 for the ninth time in 18 games this season. It’s an astonishing stat that Wilson confessed he has no explanation for.
“I don’t have one,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
Eric Nystrom, Dustin Boyd and Jay Bouwmeester also had goals for the Flames (12-4-2), who earned five of six points on their road trip.
Francois Beauchemin and Matt Stajan replied for Toronto (3-10-5), which has just one victory at the Air Canada Centre all season.
The Maple Leafs were celebrating ’80’s Night and provided fans with a quick reminder of how tough that decade was. Iginla and Nystrom scored 16 seconds apart before the game was two minutes old – a pair of goals that seemed to startle netminder Jonas Gustavsson.
The third goal to get past the rookie Swede came after Beauchemin had scored for Toronto, prompting Wilson to pull Gustavsson at 9:54 of the first period. Vesa Toskala, who had a good outing on Friday in Chicago, was sent in and seemed to help calm things down.
Toronto carried much of the play for the next 30 minutes, outshooting the Flames 20-4 in the second period alone.
“They really bounced back,” said Kiprusoff. “The second period, we weren’t ready for that.”
Fortunately for the Flames, only one of those shots crossed the goal-line. That came off the stick off Stajan, who knocked in a backhand at 4:41 of the second period to narrow Calgary’s advantage to 3-2.
Kiprusoff has allowed just five goals in his last five starts and is a big reason Calgary left Toronto with a victory. He sprawled to make to take the tying goal off Mikhail Grabovski’s stick late in the second period and turned away Hagman from in-close in the third.
“Thank goodness he was there,” Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr said of Kiprusoff. “I thought for most of the first period and all the second period, they were the better team.
“He made great saves. I can’t say enough good things about him, he had a tremendous game.”
The knockout blow from Calgary came off the stick of Iginla, who scored his 11th of the season after roaring down the right wing and beating Toskala high at 2:30 of the third period.
The Flames seemed to build on that and finished the final 20 minutes in a much stronger fashion than they had played the first 40. Sutter acknowledged that he might be having a tough time getting his message through because the team continues to win.
“It’s not that I don’t think they buy into it, it’s executing it,” said Sutter. “(They’ve got) to realize there is no easy games, every game is a tough game. You’ve got to prepare to do it the right away. You’re not going to play well every night and you’re not going to win every game, but it can’t be because certain things failed you.
“Those are things that I get upset about.”
Down the hallway, it was a little easier for Wilson to explain his team’s latest setback.
“At the end of the day, you say it’s too much Iginla and too much Kiprusoff,” he said.
Notes: Defenceman Carl Gunnarson played his first career NHL game for Toronto … Leafs forward Phil Kessel and Flames forward David Moss are cousins … Two scratches missed the chance to face their former team – Calgary’s Anton Stralman and Toronto’s Wayne Primeau, who sat out because his wife gave birth to a boy … Calgary has opened the scoring in 15 of its 18 games … The Leafs warmed up in retro jerseys. A sampling: Ed Olczyk (Stajan), Russ Courtnall (Grabovski), Gary Leeman (Phil Kessel) and Ken Wregget (Gustavsson) … Between 1980-81 and 1989-90, Toronto’s record was 266-441-93 … Announced attendance was 19,316.