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Brian Rolston scores game-winner as Wild dump Flames 4-2

After Miikka Kiprusoff turned aside a pair of great scoring opportunities in the first period by Rolston, the Minnesota Wild forward blasted a slap shot through the Calgary goalie's legs at 4:47 of the third to notch the game-winning goal and lead the Wild to a 4-2 win over the Flames Saturday night.

"Especially coming down the wing or even in the middle, I feel that I can beat goalies," Rolston said. "I'm not trying to be arrogant about it or anything like that. I'm shooting it for a reason, I'm not shooting it for a rebound.

"I had early opportunities that he made big saves on. You just keep on plugging away sometimes and they go in for you." Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire had a feeling Rolston would count his 29th goal of the season.

"He had two chances like that tonight," Lemaire said. "I thought he would score on the first one, he didn't. After the second one, I said here he goes again.

"He's a great shooter. He's a guy that can score from that position. He's done it many times this year. He's very dangerous when he comes off the wing and he lets that shot go."

Pavol Demitra, who also had an assist in the game, added an insurance marker and the Wild then held on to win its sixth straight game and fifth in a row on the road.

With the victory the Wild (42-25-7) pulled seven points ahead of the Flames for second spot in the NHL's Northwest Division. Minnesota still remains one point behind the Vancouver Canucks, who downed the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 Saturday night, for first in the Northwest.

"Hopefully we can stay healthy and keep going," said forward Marian Gaborik, who had a goal and an assist and was named the game's first star.

"We're playing with a lot of confidence and we're playing as a team. We're playing our system. We're playing tight hockey and we showed it again tonight. I don't think teams like to play against us when we're playing like that."

Stephane Veilleux also scored for the Wild, while netminder Niklas Backstrom made 19 saves to improve his record to 18-8-5.

Despite the setback, the Flames (37-25-10) still hold onto eighth spot in the Western Conference standings.

Damond Langkow and Alex Tanguay counted goals for the Flames, who have now lost three straight after winning six of their previous eight contests.

"We felt right in the game the whole way through but for some reason when you're in a slump, the puck always seems to bounce the other team's way and that's what it did tonight," Tanguay said. "We're very confident in our group. There's no reason to start doubting ourselves or pushing the panic button, but we certainly have to start finding ways to win hockey games, as opposed to finding ways to lose them."

It took Calgary just 32 seconds to strike first as a harmless-looking shot by Langkow handcuffed Backstrom and found the back of the net.

"The first shot going in like that was a definite break," said Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, who set up the goal. "But they played tight."

The Wild didn't get their first shot of the game until the 6:25 mark of the opening frame when Kiprusoff made a pad save on a breakaway attempt by Rolston.

Later in the period, Kiprusoff made another great pad save on Rolston to keep the Wild off the scoresheet. With Iginla in the penalty box for hooking, Gaborik converted a nifty return pass in front of the net from Demitra to tie the contest at 1-1 before the end of the first.

Early in the second, Matthew Lombardi used his speed to cut around Minnesota defenceman Martin Skoula and centred a pass to Tanguay, who quickly snapped a shot past Backstrom.

Mid-way through the second Veilleux tipped a point shot by Minnesota blue-liner Keith Carney through Kiprusoff's legs and into the net to tie the game once again.

Minnesota had a great chance to go up one when Rolston feathered a perfect cross-ice feed to Pierre-Marc Bouchard, but Kiprusoff slid across to block the one-timer off of Bouchard's stick.

The Flames had a great chance late in the game to tie, but Backstrom made a nice save to turn aside a shot that was redirected by Calgary forward David Moss.

Demitra counted the insurance marker to round out the scoring.

Notes: - With the win, Minnesota ended a seven-game losing streak at the Pengrowth Saddledome. The Flames have only lost three times to the Wild in their past 18 home games. ... By setting up Langkow's first period goal, Iginla tied Kent Nilsson for sixth spot at 333 on the Flames all-time list for assists. He needs just four more helpers to pass both Paul Reinhart and Guy Chouinard and jump into fourth spot on the list.


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