Despite a resurgent performance from Jarome Iginla, and an unbelievable performance from Miikka Kiprusoff, the Flames lost another heartbreaking game to the Vancouver Canucks, 4-3 in the shootout. When I use the word heartbreaking though, it doesn't necessarily mean the Flames deserved the game. Rather, the Flames lost this game because they threw it away in the third period. Sure, Kevin Bieksa's game tying goal with less than a minute left hurt, but it's not like nobody could have seen it coming, not with Calgary being outshot 17-6 in the third period.
Things looked promising for the Flames when Jarome Iginla opened the scoring midway through the first. Not only was it a goal after an absolutely invisible previous week (and in the midst of a well publicized cold streak), it came against the Canucks, WITH Willie Mitchell on the ice (admittedly a 4 on 4). It might be the only goal he's scored against Vancouver that I can remember since Mitchell joined the Canucks. (Had to actually check the shift charts to confirm Mitchell was on the ice). The tying goal at the end of the first was a bad omen that would foreshadow the Flames' downfall this game: a bad turnover at the Calgary blueline leads to a tying goal with less than a minute left.
The subject of turnovers can't be mentioned without talking about Todd Bertuzzi. Big Bert followed up his best game as a Flame - a four-assist night at Phoenix on Saturday - with his worst, a game in which I'm guessing he got twice as many giveaways as he did assists in Phoenix. (An exaggeration, but still.) He also fanned on a shot on a critical setup in the slot, and took a dumb (if a little corny) penalty in the first which nullified a Calgary powerplay after 3 seconds. However, Bert was also filling in for Andre Roy at times after Roy's injury during a fight with Darcy Hordichuk. Needless to say though, when Bert hit the post despite a perfect move on Luongo to end the game in the shootout, I think it was punishment from the hockey gods.
Speaking of injuries, Daymond Langkow left the game and did not come back late in the third with what looked like a serious upper body injury. Obviously, this would be a fairly devastating injury for Calgary if he is out for a prolonged period so I'll just stay optimistic that he won't be out long.
And finally. What a performance by Miikka Kiprusoff. The three saves he made during Vancouver's power play midway through the third - the point-blank down-and-out glove save on Mats Sundin, the incredible diving stick save on Kyle Wellwood, and the save immediately following the stop on Wellwood - may well be candidates for saves of the year. It is obvious that Kiprusoff is back in Vezina form. The only thing that bothers me is that the Flames have fallen back into a familiar pattern of having Kiprusoff have to steal games for them. That, and the fear of him playing too many games to be fresh for the playoffs, is not a good combination.
It has been said that this week's Flames schedule of their three closest divisional opponents could significantly lower the chances, if Calgary has a good week, of those teams catching up to Calgary in the division race, since each game is a legitimate four-point game. Taking that into account, tonight's game could be described as a blown opportunity.
(For those curious, the magic number to clinch the division is currently 43 points - taken from http://zorak.best.vwh.net/nhl/