The Calgary Flames opened their big five game Pacific roadtrip with a dramatic 4-3 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks. Jarome Iginla scored the winner with 25 seconds left on the clock, one-timing a nice pass from Phaneuf from the left circle. This came after Phaneuf had sent the game to overtime with 49 seconds to go with a wrister from the blueline that found the back of the net through heavy traffic on the powerplay. What was most impressive about the Flames' comeback win, though, was how they managed to win despite being thoroughly dominated 43-18 on the shot count (including being outshot 18-5 in the first period alone). If there ever was a single game to efficiently silence all remaining critics of Miikka Kiprusoff's play this year (although I don't see how there could be) this would be the one, as the Kipper made 40 saves to beat his old teammate Evgeni Nabokov.
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In the Sharks-dominated first period, Daymond Langkow was still able to put Calgary ahead 1-0 less than five minutes in. Following some nice work along the boards Langkow, parked 14 feet in front of the net, redirected Owen Nolan's shot from the blueline past Nabokov. However, 18 shots in one period had to net a goal for San Jose, and at 11:40 Marcel Goc scored on a somewhat soft wrister from the right circle (however, Kipper's play the rest of the game would more than make up for this sieve goal.)
Calgary came out a bit better in the second, managing to pull ahead 2-1 only two minutes in from an unlikely source - fourth liner Mark Smith. Following a Flames dump in Matt Lombardi was able to take the puck away behind the net and feed it to Smith in front, who was initially stopped but scored on his own rebound by quite literally crashing the net. There was a review but it was determined the puck went in just before the net came off its moorings. In typical Calgary fashion, however, the Sharks were able to tie it up with less than a minute left, Milan Michalek scoring a pretty goal, deking out Kipper right in front and backhanding it home after taking Craig Rivet's pass from the blueline on the powerplay. The Flames were outshot 13-6 in this period.
In the third, San Jose took its first lead of the game eight and a half minutes in, when Mike Grier's shot from between the circles was deflected by Patrick Rissmiller past Kipper. The Flames mustered just two shots on net the next ten minutes, and all hope seemed lost (to me, anyway). But late in the third, and Jonathan Cheechoo in the box for shooting the puck over the glass, the Flames managed to tie the game with less than 60 ticks on the clock for the third time this season. After a near deflection by Langkow that went just wide of the goal, the Sharks attempted to clear it out but the puck landed right on the stick of Dion at the point, who fired a quick wrister past Nabokov. An unusually clutch powerplay for the special teams challenged Flames.
In overtime, both teams had their chance but it was ultimately Miikka Kiprusoff who won the game for the Flames, despite Iginla scoring the goal. With a minute left Kipper made two clutch saves, and then 30 seconds later Dion smoothly skated past two lines and made a nice centering pass to Iggy who finished the job.
I'm kind of rushed for time so I'll be brief in my comments on the game: while it's great to see the Flames can win these types of games, as this isn't the first time they've pulled a miracle like this, being outshot 43-18 and having to rely on Kipper to win the game for you is something all too familiar to me from last season. It's a sign of a desperate Flames team, and while a win is a win is a win...Flames fans all know what happened last year when the Flames' only hope was Kipper against Detroit in Round 1. Still, great win regardless, and winning the series against San Jose could prove useful when it comes time to count the points in April.
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