CALGARY – Another multi-goal game from David Moss helped the Calgary Flames head to the NHL all-star break back in playoff contention and playing their best hockey of the season.
Moss scored twice and added an assist Wednesday night as the surging Calgary Flames beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 for their fourth straight win.
Calgary enters the all-star break in 12th spot in the Western Conference, but a sizzling 10-3-3 run in their last 16 games has them within two points of the eighth and final playoff spot. In the tightly packed conference, fourth place and home ice advantage in the playoffs is just six points away.
“Going into the break, we wanted to give ourselves a chance to be in the hunt and we are now. It will be a good few days off and then we’ll get back to work,” Moss said.
Despite the team’s hot streak, Moss says the short five-day reprieve is welcomed.
“Guys are banged up. It’s good to have a few days just to rest your body and rejuvenate,” Moss said. “The second half is huge for us so the break is probably comes at a good time.”
Calgary took the lead for good 5:34 into the game thanks to a blunder by St. Louis Louis defenceman Erik Johnson.
Goaltender Ty Conklin stuck out his pad to stop Moss’s snapshot from the wing. But as the rebound bounced into the slot, Johnson misplayed his clearing attempt firing it straight into his own net.
As the 22-year-old sat shaking his head on the Blues bench, highlights of the blooper were shown over and over again on the scoreboard video screen to the roars of the sellout Scotiabank Saddledome crowd of 19,289.
Adam Pardy and Jarome Iginla, into an empty net, also scored for Calgary (24-21-6).
Philip McRae, son of former NHL player Basil McRae, scored his first career goal for St. Louis (22-20-7).
For different reasons, McRae says the Blues, who are heading the wrong direction, are also looking forward to the time off.
St. Louis is 2-8-2 in its last dozen games and have fallen into a tie with Columbus for 13th place in the West.
“It will be good just to have some time to relax and recharge and forget about this last little bit here and come back ready to go,” said the 20-year-old Minneapolis native. “We come back and play Colorado and Edmonton. If we win those two games, we’re right back in it and have some confidence and can get the ball rolling the other way.”
Calgary took a 2-0 lead 1:29 into the second period when Moss deflected Anton Babchuk’s wrist shot past Conklin on the power play.
It’s been two goals or none for Moss of late. Moss has racked up eight goals in his last 12 games, the result of four two-goal games.
“It’s just one of those things, I can’t explain it,” said Moss. “It’s a good streak to be on, there are worse things for sure.”
The 2-0 lead would be all the offence Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff would need in his 500th career game. With his short slump from the past couple weeks clearly behind him, Kiprusoff made 28 saves to improve to 20-18-2.
In terms of volume, Kiprusoff was busiest in the second turning aside all 12 shots he faced. However, in terms of quality of chances, his best stops came in the third. In stifling the Blues comeback attempt, Kiprusoff stuck out a pad to thwart Alex Steen on a breakaway and made a spectacular glove grab to rob Alex Pietrangelo on a dangerous backhand.
“If we can keep it up, we’re definitely going to be able to go up a few spots right away,”said Kiprusoff said.“There are a lot of teams really close so we have to be able to keep playing well night after night.”
Since a rough six-game patch in which Kiprusoff went 1-2-1, got pulled twice and gave up 22 goals, the 34-year-old Finn has won three straight and only given up five goals in that span while stopping 92 shots.
Wednesday’s win was career victory No. 259 for Kiprusoff, moving him past Ken Dryden and into 38th place on the NHL’s all-time list.
“He was a legend for the Montreal Canadiens so that’s pretty cool,”acknowledged Kiprusoff.
The nicest goal of the night was a rare display of offensive flair from Flames defenceman Pardy. After a St. Louis turnover deep in the Calgary end, Pardy raced up ice where he got a perfect breakaway pass from Olli Jokinen and beat Conklin on the blocker side.
“It feels good to get one finally,”said Pardy, who hadn’t scored in 60 games, dating back to Nov. 30, 2009.“Their d-man didn’teven know I was there, I don’t think anybody thought I was going. A lot of people thought it was (Rene) Bourque flying up the ice.”
NOTES — The last time the Flames were within two points of a playoff spot was Nov. 11… St. Louis C Patrick Berglund saw his career-high six-game points streak (three goals, four assists) come to an end… Calgary D Mark Giordano entered the night minus-13 over his previous 11 games… Calgary C Craig Conroy cleared waivers and must now decide whether to retire or report to the Flames AHL affiliate. The Flames are expecting the 39-year-old to make his decision after the all-star break.