CALGARY - Solid goaltending and defensive play helped the Calgary Flames earn their first victory over the Vancouver Canucks this season.
Until their 2-1 win Monday over the Canucks at the Saddledome, the Flames had an 0-3-1 record against Vancouver. "We were a lot more physical against them tonight than we have been in past games," said Flames forward Daymond Langkow, who set up both Calgary goals. "That was a big factor in tonight's game."
After Daniel Sedin scored on Vancouver's first shot of the game at 2:34 of the opening frame, Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff stopped the rest of the 24 shots he faced. Owen Nolan and Kristian Huselius scored to earn the Flames (19-14-7) their second consecutive win.
"After the first one, he was in position all night long," Calgary forward Craig Conroy said of Kiprusoff. "He was across quick, he was out at the shooter. He didn't give them anything. When the rebounds were sitting around, our (defence) did a great job of clearing the puck."
The Flames held the Vancouver power play to no goals in four chances, which Kiprusoff said was one of the keys to the victory.
"Our (penalty killing) was good," he said. "We had some trouble with them earlier in the season. We knew it was going to be key to do a good job. I think we did a much better job."
Early in the game, the Flames' Matthew Lombardi had a great scoring chance but his shot from the slot went wide. Vancouver's Henrik Sedin then picked up the puck and passed it ahead to his brother Daniel, who went down the other way and snapped a quick shot past Kiprusoff.
The Flames didn't register their first shot on net until the 10:15 mark when Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo turned aside Dion Phaneuf's slap shot during a Calgary power play. During the same man advantage, Calgary tied the game when Nolan took a cross-crease pass from Langkow and roofed a shot past Luongo from a tough angle.
"I knew he was going to cover the bottom of the net," Nolan said. "I just tried to raise it as much as I could. I was just fortunate to hit the back of the net."
Late in the opening period, Kiprusoff made an alert save when he stopped a point shot by Vancouver's Willie Mitchell that banked off of Calgary defenceman David Hale toward the net.
During a second-period power play for Vancouver, Kiprusoff made back-to-back impressive saves, first getting in front of a deflection by Daniel Sedin before getting his blocker on a point shot by Alexander Edler.
"We had our chances," said Vancouver captain Markus Naslund. "I didn't think we played our best hockey but I felt we weren't out of the game. It just wasn't there for us tonight."
With 1:05 left in the second, Langkow kicked a rebound to the side of the net where Huselius was waiting to bury it behind Luongo.
"There was a rebound there and I was tied up so I just kind of kicked it to the side of the net there and Kristian came out from behind and had an empty net," Langkow said.
Kiprusoff then stopped all 10 shots he faced in the third period to preserve the victory for Calgary and improve his record to 19-12-7.
Notes: Since first hosting a New Year's Eve game in 1987 at the Saddledome, the Flames have won nine times, lost five and tied three against opposing teams. It's the first time they have matched up against the Canucks on New Year's Eve. ... Vancouver D Mattias Ohlund missed his fourth straight game due to neck spasms.