Calgary Flames players, clockwise from left, Jarome Iginla, Matt Stajan, Derek Smith, Chris Butler and Alex Tanguay celebrated after Stajan scored the go ahead goal against the Minnesota Wild during third period NHL action at the Scotiabank Saddledome on February 23, 2013. The Flames defeated the Wild 3-1.
Photograph by: Colleen De Neve, Calgary Herald
CALGARY — Bob Hartley, in back-to-back matches, has watched his goalie — his No. 1 man at this point — get run over.
The Calgary Flames coach has seen enough.
“That’s something I hope the (National Hockey League) is going to be looking at,” Hartley said shortly after his team — powered by Joey MacDonald’s netminding and Matt Stajan’s goal scoring — dumped the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “Not from a standpoint of (only) Joey MacDonald ... but for goalies, the blue paint is almost like toll booths right now. Players come in and they just drive those nets.
“There’s already been a few goalies getting injured because of contact. (Miikka Kiprusoff) is one of them. So I think that has to stop. Maybe a two-minute penalty is just not enough.”
Wednesday, it had been Trevor Lewis, of the Los Angeles Kings, who thumped MacDonald back into his net — basically straight on.
Saturday, it was the turn of Jason Zucker, who, taking a shortcut through MacDonald’s crease, had knocked out the right leg of the netminder.
In both cases, the intruders were penalized with minors.
In both cases, MacDonald was shaken up, but stayed in the game.
But what, pray tell, is going to be left of the netminder, a chap who had been sidelined by back issues for nearly an entire year?
“It’s just part of the game, I guess,” said MacDonald, who parried 30 shots. “You know what? Every game you watch, it seems like goalies are being bumped into. I think everyone’s got to sit down and watch and see what they can do about it.”
Is it more than coincidence that it’s happened twice to a goalie who’s being backed up by someone with 80 minutes of NHL experience?
“Hockey players are good guys, they don’t try to go out and injure a guy,” replied the easygoing MacDonald. “They’re going hard. At that point in time ... (Zucker) was trying to catch one of our D behind the net. I was in the crease and he cut through the crease.
“It’s just the way the game is. It’s funny. Two games, two hits. It’s ... I don’t know. Not much you can do about it, I guess.”
Hartley said he was undecided about his starting goalie Sunday against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes — will it be MacDonald in his third consecutive start?
Or the other newcomer Danny Taylor?
At any rate, MacDonald, 33, is 2-2-0 with his latest employers. And he’s looked remarkably steady.
“He’s been great,” said Stajan. “Every game he’s been in, he’s made some huge saves for us. He gives us a chance to win. And teams are running him, too — that’s twice he’s been run over and he’s bounced right back.
“We have confidence in him. He’s played in this league. He’s a battler. That’s all you want from your goaltending.”
After what by these teams is a burst of scoring, Calgary’s Alex Tanguay at 1:40; Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle, his first in the NHL, at 8:56 of the first period, the night settled into a quiet spell.
Flames call-up Akim Aliu, rattling defender Clayton Stoner into the end fence, did make a little noise.
But in the third period it was aces, 1-1, till Stajan got busy.
With linemate Jarome Iginla jostling in front of Niklas Backstrom, he propelled a puck into the Wild goalie’s pads. From there, and with a tad more coercion, it trickled over the goal-line at 7:19.
Not pretty — but that’s not the point (especially when you’re desperate for your third home-ice victory of the season).
“It went in — I don’t really care how,” said Stajan. “When I shot it, the goalie got across quick and I didn’t get all of it. I just tried to jam. I wanted to make sure that one went in. That’s just staying on it ... that’s a scramble goal. There’s so many goals like that in this league. The majority of goals are rebounds and plays like that.
“That’s how you play in this league, there’s no doubt. Unless you’re Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin dangling through guys, you’re not going to score to many goals end to end.”
The only natural centreman in the Calgary lineup, Stajan won 60 per cent of his draws — removing his 12-for-20 from the equation, the rest of the team went 17-for-51 (33 per cent).
For good measure, he added an empty-netter to ice the win.
“I’m so happy for Matt Stajan — what a great reward for him,” said Hartley. “He played very well. He’s probably been one of our most consistent players since the start of the year. And to get rewarded with two goals, big faceoffs. A very good game.”
But, according to Stajan, it’s only one game.
The weekend’s not over. There’s work to be done.
“There’s only ... 32 games left,” he said. “You’ve got to string them together. There’s so many three-point games. This is a huge weekend for us — we’re only halfway done (with Phoenix on the slate). It’s nice to get the two points, but we’re here for four points this weekend, not just one win.”
C-NOTES: Minnesota LW Dany Heatley absorbed a minus-three ... Calgary scratches — D Anton Babchuk, D Cory Sarich, RW Roman Cervenka, G Miikka Kiprusoff (knee), C Mikael Backlund (knee), C Paul Byron (hand) ... LW Steve Begin dressed for his 499th game.
Follow Scott Cruickshank on Twitter/CruickshankCH
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