CALGARY – Miikka Kiprusoff has Calgary’s grinder lines to thank for his 30th win.
Second period goals by Matthew Lombardi and Andre Roy was would be all the offence Kiprusoff and the Flames would need Friday night in a 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators. Kiprusoff, who made 28 stops for his league-leading 30th victory, was in vintage form in the third period.
With Nashville down 2-1 and applying enormous pressure on a power play, Kiprusoff made five saves in short order. The best came off Ryan Jones, who looked to have the open side only to see Kiprusoff scramble across and spectacularly deflect the puck away with the paddle of his stick.
“I just tried to turn around and find the puck and get it in the air because most goalies are going to be along the ground but he did a good job of taking away the bottom of the net, threw the paddle up in the air and got a stick on it,” said Jones.
Lombardi was on the ice and had a great view of it.
“That was unbelievable,” Lombardi said. “It looked like he was right out of it and then he comes across and makes a big save.”
As the penalty ended, chants of “Kipper, Kipper” broke out from the appreciative sell-out Pengrowth Saddledome crowd of 19,289.
“Guys around here that have been playing with (Kiprusoff) a few years have come to know him that way and know he can make the big save,” said Lombardi.
Shortly after that, Calgary got a two-man advantage and Adrian Aucoin notched his fifth goal on a set up from Michael Cammalleri.
“Definitely the turning point in the game,” said Nashville defenceman Dan Hamhuis. “That puts us tied with them and with the momentum with half a period to go. Unfortunately, he makes the save then we take a penalty and that changed the game.”
Winners of seven of its last nine games overall and ten of its last 11 at home, Calgary (30-14-4) maintains its 11 point lead atop the Northwest Division. The Flames moved to within five points of the second-place Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference.
J.P. Dumont scored the lone goal for Nashville (21-24-3), which remains in 14th spot in the Western Conference, eights point out of the final playoff spot.
“The first 30 minutes we were not very good at all,” said Nashville coach Barry Trotz. “Then in the last 30 minutes I thought we were much better. We ran into some penalty trouble, had some great chances with 10 minutes to go. One power play they had three great saves by Kiprusoff. If we get it tied up there we probably leave here with a point.”
After a scoreless opening period, Lombardi gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 7:23 of the second by converting a centring pass from Curtis Glencross.
Five minutes later, it was time for the team’s fourth line to chip in.
Breaking down the wing against all-star defenceman Shea Weber, Eric Nystrom made a nifty move cutting suddenly to the middle. As Weber slid helplessly out of the play, Nystrom slid a perfect pass across to Roy, who fired in his third goal of the season.
“I didn’t even think shot one bit, I just knew we were on a two-on-one and once their ‘D’ went down, I just slid it over,” said Nystrom. “Sometimes I kick myself for not shooting enough but Roy had an open net and he did a good job finishing it.”
Trailing 2-0, Nashville got back to within one at 8:27 of the third.
Rookie Flames defenceman Adam Pardy fell at the Nashville blue-line resulting in a three-on-one, and Dumont finished it off, tucking his own rebound behind Kiprusoff.
Aucoin’s goal extended his points-streak to six games (one goal, six assists). Even though his four-game goal scoring streak ended, Cammalleri had an assist to run his points streak to eight games (11 goals, three assists).
Notes: Jarome Iginla was held without a point, keeping him at 817 for his career – 13 back of franchise leader Theoren Fleury (830) and five behind runner-up Al MacInnis. … The Flames franchise record for wins in a season by a goalie is 42 set by Kiprusoff in his Vezina-winning season in 2005-06. … Nashville has killed off 68 of its last 74 penalties over the past 20 games. Ranked 20th in the league in penalty killing at the start of that stretch, they were sixth in the league going into Friday’s game. … As a Predator, Jason Arnott has thrived against Calgary with 15 points (10 goals, five assists) in 12 games.