Although it’s only been two games, the absence from the line-up of leading scorer Jarome Iginla (sidelined with a sprained knee) hasn’t impacted the Flames, who have won twice in a row without their captain.
In both those wins Ritchie has played a giant role, scoring three goals, giving the journeyman forward four goals in the past three games. Not bad considering Ritchie notched just three goals in the season’s first 33 games.
Ahead 2-0 in the third period, Ritchie put the game out of reach at 6:54 on his first shorthanded goal of the season. Matthew Lombardi streaked into the Minnesota zone, slid a pass right onto the stick of Ritchie, who fired a shot past goaltender Niklas Backstrom.
Daymond Langkow and Mark Giordano also scored for Calgary (22-15-4), which finishes with five wins out of six on its longest homestand of the season. The Flames improve to 17-5-0 at home, tying them with Minnesota for the most home wins in the league.
Calgary also moves within one point of Vancouver for the lead in the Northwest Division. Calgary has two games in hand on the Canucks.
The road woes, meanwhile, continue for Minnesota (21-19-3). The Wild are 0-10-1 in their last 11 games away from the Xcel Energy Center and have three more stops on their current four-game road trip. At 4-15-1, Minnesota is the NHL’s worst road team.
Kiprusoff was solid all night capping his perfect evening with a spectacular glove stop on Brian Rolston with three minutes left to preserve his fifth shutout of the season, and 22nd of his career.
After a scoreless first period, Calgary opened the scoring 1:24 into the second period when Langkow got his stick on Robyn Regehr’s shot from the blue-line, deflecting it past Backstrom.
Calgary extended its lead to 2-0 at 17:59 of the second when Kristian Huselius neatly set up Giordano for a power-play goal.
Notes: – Exactly halfway through the season, Calgary’s 46 points is six fewer than at the same point last season (25-12-4)… RW Eric Godard made his Calgary debut after being recalled Monday from Omaha (AHL). Godard had appeared in 107 games with the New York Islanders over the previous three seasons… Calgary LW Marcus Nilson (leg) is back skating and is expected back within the week. Nilson has missed 16 games… Minnesota’s only two road wins in their last 16 games away from home have come in shootouts. Their last regulation road win was Oct. 21 at San Jose.