CALGARY – It was far from a masterpiece, but when you’re mired in a five-game losing skid any victory is a good one.
Kristian Huselius scored the game-winning goal with 53 seconds remaining Tuesday night as the Calgary Flames snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Up 1-0 entering the third period, the Flames fell behind on consecutive goals by Mikko Koivu before rallying for the win on goals that both were the result of fortuitous bounces.
Twenty-one seconds after Koivu’s fifth of the season put the Wild in front, Iginla notched his 11th goal of the season on the definitive fluke goal.
Streaking over the Minnesota blue-line, Iginla’s slapshot first deflected off Wild defenceman Nick Schultz and then caromed wickedly off the ankle of his defence partner Brent Burns before going straight into the net past a stunned Niklas Backstrom.
On the winning goal, Daymond Langkow’s shot off the stick of Burns caromed to Huselius near the corner, who quickly snapped his eighth goal of the season through Backstrom’s pads.
“First the puck hits a couple players and goes in and the last one, Kristian made a nice shot but from the angle he was, that shot normally doesn’t go in. I guess we were owed one tonight,” said Calgary left-winger Alex Tanguay.
Tanguay was a central figure in the third period . He was serving his second minor penalty of the period when Minnesota scored to take the lead. After departing the penalty box, Flames coach Mike Keenan kept him on the ice and the move paid off as Tanguay’s hit began the sequence that led to Iginla’s tying goal.
“He was upset with the call and he came out with a strong will, made a big play and that led to the opportunity we picked up as a result of his hit deep in our end,” Keenan said.
Dion Phaneuf also scored for Calgary (7-8-3) as the Flames won on home ice for the first time in four tries.
“Confidence and momentum are two things that you need on your side in this game and you have to make sure you work hard to get them and then once you have them, you have to keep them,” said Tanguay.
Minnesota (9-6-2) fell to 0-2 on its four-game road trip that will see them play each of the other teams in the Northwest Division. The Wild were once again without two-thirds of its top line with Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra each sitting out their third game in a row with groin injuries.
“We really did have the momentum there but Iginla’s goal was a little unfortunate for us for sure,” said Minnesota centre Brian Rolston. “Sometimes that can change a hockey game. We were still playing hard but then they get that third one. It’s a bit of a jinx for us in this building.”
Koivu tied it at 3:17 on a set up from Mark Parrish then put the Wild ahead on the power-play at 9:52 steering in Petteri Nummelin’s shot from the side boards.
Kiprusoff made 26 saves for the victory, just his second win in seven starts since signing a US$35 million, six-year contract extension Oct. 29. Kiprusoff entered the game having given up three or more goals in his previous five starts.
“Like the pitcher in baseball or the quarterback in football, the goaltender often gets most of the blame because they’re the last line of defence but it’s a team game, it hasn’t been Miikka’s fault,” said Tanguay.
Iginla’s goal extends his point scoring streak to seven games (five goals, four assists).
Notes: Eighteen games into the season Kiprusoff is still looking for his first shutout. The slump is 23 games dating back to last season. Kiprusoff entered the season with 24 career NHL shutouts, an average of one every 9.7 appearances… Langkow returned to the line-up after missing one game due to a concussion. Also back in the line-up for the Flames was D Rhett Warrener, who had missed four games due to strep throat… Curtis McElhinney, who backed up Kiprusoff for the first two weeks of the season but never saw any action before being demoted, started for Quad City (AHL) Tuesday night and stopped 37 of 38 shots in a 3-1 victory over Grand Rapids… Kiprusoff and San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov are the only two goalies remaining that have started every one of their teams games.