CALGARY – Eric Nystrom’s short-handed goal in the third period led the red-hot Calgary Flames to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday.
Nystrom picked up a loose puck at centre after Dustin Boyd’s attempt to ice the puck from his own end was knocked out of the air by Minnesota Wild defenceman Brett Burns. He darted in alone and made a pretty forehand fake to draw Josh Harding to the ice, then calmly pulled the puck around the sprawled Wild goaltender and slid in his first goal since Nov. 1, a span of 25 games.
Daymond Langkow also scored for Calgary (21-11-4). The Flames are 5-0-3 in their last eight and lead the Northwest Division by three points over Vancouver.
The two goals would be enough support for Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff who made 22 saves to win his league-leading 21st game (21-10-3).
Kiprusoff made a clutch stop in the third period, when he jabbed out his pad to deny Andrew Brunette of what looked like a sure goal from the side of the net.
Stephane Veilleux had the lone goal for Minnesota (17-16-2). The Wild have lost their last six road games and overall are 2-8-1 in their last 11 to fall into last place in the Northwest.
Harding, getting a rare start in goal in place of Niklas Backstrom, provided a rare bright spot for the Wild.
Harding made 27 saves, including a sequence of four superb stops in a row during a Calgary power play early in the third. Preserving a 1-1 tie at the time, two of the stops during the prolonged scramble at the top of the crease were off Langkow.
Minnesota tied the game with 15 seconds left in the second period.
Martin Skoula dumped the puck into the corner of the Flames end where Eric Belanger was first to the puck and directed a shot towards the Flames net. The puck glanced off Kiprusoff’s stick and into the slot ,where Veilleux promptly fired a shot that hit off the back bar in the net and caromed out so fast that play continued.
At the next whistle, the video replay was reviewed and it was ruled a goal.
It was the second time on the night that referees Rob Martell and Mike Leggo had to get on the phone to verify the legitimacy of a goal.
On Calgary’s first period goal, Langkow was skating hard towards the net as Todd Bertuzzi’s centring pass deflected off his skate and past Harding.
This time, the initial ruling was a goal and that was confirmed as the correct call by the video replay official.
Video replay was consulted yet again in the third period when David Moss deflected Dion Phaneuf’s shot from the blue-line out of the air. This time, the ruling of no goal by the referees stood after replays confirmed Moss’ stick was above the crossbar when it touched the puck.
Notes: Minnesota has yielded the game’s first goal in its last 11 games… Calgary winger Rene Bourque entered the night the leader on the Flames in plus/minus at plus-10… Of Bourque’s 14 goals, 13 have come even strength with the other being a short-handed goal. Jarome Iginla is second on the Flames in even strength goals with eight… Through 36 games, Calgary is six points ahead of last year’s pace… Minnesota drops to 8-15-1 versus Western Conference opponents. They are 9-1-1 versus Eastern teams… The Wild are 1-12-2 in their last 15 trips to the Saddledome.