Kipper's brilliance not enough for Flames

 

San Jose scores late to edge lively Calgary squad

 
 
 
 
Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and defenseman Cory Sarich defend a shot by San Jose Sharks left winger T.J. Galiardi during the first period of their game Friday night.
 

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and defenseman Cory Sarich defend a shot by San Jose Sharks left winger T.J. Galiardi during the first period of their game Friday night.

Photograph by: Jeff Chiu, AP

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San Jose - Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley jumped to the defence Friday of the goalie he yanked in his last two starts.
Yes, Miikka Kiprusoff played absolutely dreadful against Columbus and Edmonton But most of us have, at one time or another, failed to live up to expectations at work when our attention is on matters other than the task at hand.
And Kiprusoff, according to the coach, is not immune to such human frailties.
“All the distractions that went on over the past weeks, I felt for Miikka,” Hartley was saying Friday morning. ”No training camp, and we’re dealing with a 36-year-old goalie. He started to get on track, and then the knee injury, the baby, all the speculation and the rumours about him being traded. It adds up.
“It’s not excuses, but they’re facts.”
With baby and Mom home and healthy – with the trade deadline in the past – Kiprusoff turned in a vintage performance Friday night against his former team, the San Jose Sharks.
Alas for Flames fans, Calgary still fell 2-1 to the Sharks before a raucous sellout crowd of 17,562 at the HP Pavilion to mark the 12th Calgary road loss in a row.
But Dave Nonis, we can see why you wanted this guy in Toronto.
“Every game I’ve played since I’ve come to Calgary, I’ve been proud to wear that jersey,” Kiprusoff said. “Nothing has changed.
“I felt normal. Everybody knows there’s been lots of things going on the last few days. It was good getting it over with.
“I just try to work as hard as I can.”
On this night, the weary travellers played without the services of the departed Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano, who stayed at home with wife Lauren in Calgary to welcome the arrival of the couple’s first child (a boy.)
The Sharks must have been salivating at the mere sight of the Calgary depth chart.
Doing his best Bouwmeester impression, Chris Butler logged 26 minutes of ice-time. T.J. Brodie checked in at 26:27. Dennis Wideman played 27:40.
Relegated to spare part, Anton Babchuk logged three shifts the entire game.
But the visiting goaltender, on this night, proved the story stopping 39 shots, albeit in a losing cause.
“Tonight we saw the real Kipper,” Hartley said. “Since the trade deadline is over, I saw a different person. It seems like there’s tons of pressure that got off his shoulders. He feels good.
“He loves it in Calgary. He’s the reason we stayed in the game.”
Surviving the San Jose onslaught through the opening 10 minutes, Mikael Backlund actually opened the scoring for Calgary at 17:55 of the first period.
The Sharks tied the game at 2:40 of the third period with veteran Dan Boyle taking a feed from Logan Couture in the high slot and firing the puck point blank behind Kiprusoff.
If these are indeed the final days of the Kiprusoff era in Calgary (and, for that matter, the NHL), the Finnish netminder gave Flames fans reason to reminisce with countless highlight-reel stops on a night they must have been terrified to turn on the TV.
“He stood up on his head for us,” said centre Steve Begin. “It was probably one of his best games of the year.”
With Kiprusoff down and out, Joe Pavelski whipped in a shot from the side of the net at 17:54 of the third to ice the seventh win in a row for the Sharks.
“Hey, everyone worked hard,” Hartley said. “It’s too bad they got that winning goal late in the game. I felt that we could have deserved better. But we turned the puck over, and it ended up in the back of the net.”
Up next: a Hockey Night in Canada clash with the Vancouver Canucks with very little in the way of rest.
The good news? Giordano is expected to suit up and help the cause.
“We can’t fault the effort,” Hartley said of the San Jose game. “We played a great team, and we battled until the last second.
“Our guys never quit.”
With his performance, Kiprusoff served notice he has no intention of quitting – at least until the season is through.
“The next one is a new game again,” he said. “But I felt pretty good tonight.”
Pretty good indeed.
vhall@calgaryherald.com
 
 
 
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Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and defenseman Cory Sarich defend a shot by San Jose Sharks left winger T.J. Galiardi during the first period of their game Friday night.
 

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and defenseman Cory Sarich defend a shot by San Jose Sharks left winger T.J. Galiardi during the first period of their game Friday night.

Photograph by: Jeff Chiu, AP

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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