Calgary - December 14, 2011 - A spectacular night of goaltending saw Miikka Kiprusoff turn aside 43 of the 45 shots fired his way in a heartbreaking loss to the Nashville Predators Tuesday night. A final minute barrage nearly saw the Flames tie the game as they garnered multiple scoring chances in the dying moments of play.
Unfortunately for the Flames, Pekka Rinne went save for save with Kiprusoff as the team dropped their 13th game of the season in an entertaining fashion.
A slow start for the Flames saw the Predators dominate the opening twenty minutes of the game, as they effortlessly controlled possession of the puck. The scoring was opened by the home team when Matt Halischuk recorded his sixth goal of the season after he managed to chip home a rebound at the 11:43 mark of the first period. A valiant effort my Miikka Kiprusoff kept the score within reach as he made several highlight reel saves in the latter stages of the period. Having been outshot 18-6, I am sure the Calgary Flames were more than happy to head into the intermission only trailing by one on the road.
It took a while, but the Flames eventually found their skating legs in the early moments of the second period. This was made clear when Curtis Glencross was allowed to skate from his blue line all the way into the slot in the Predators zone before floating a backhand off of the crossbar and in. It was indeed a very nice individual effort by Glencross, but would not have come to fruition had the five Nashville players on the ice played any sort off defense on the play. After a strong first ten minutes to begin the second frame, the Flames took their foot off of the gas just a little as Nashville was allowed to regain the momentum of the game.
As a result of that momentum shift the Predators carried their strong play into the final period, as it did not take long before they were rewarded. Brendan Morrison was called for interference just three minutes into the period after getting caught up with a Nashville forward in the neutral zone. A Predators face off win resulted in a shot on goal that forced a rebound into the slot before Colin Wilson scored the go ahead goal on the power play. From that moment on I truly expected Nashville to sit back in order defend their lead, but surely enough they exchanged chances with the Flames for the remainder of the game. This strategy nearly backfired on them multiple times as the Flames pushed hard offensively for the tying goal. With less then two minutes remaining on the clock, Miikka Kiprusoff was pulled. There was certainly no lack of effort by the team tonight as the Flames just did not quit, they buzzed around the net and generated multiple high percentage scoring chances.
Unfortunately a desperation save by Pekka Rinne off of the stick of Olli Jokinen sealed the fate of the Flames on this night as they fall back to .500 on the season (13-13-2) and sit 10th in the western conference.
Random Notes and Thoughts
Jarome Iginla was creating opportunities all night long, and finished the game with an impressive eight shots on net.
In my opinion centers Matt Stajan and Mikael Backlund had there best performances of the year as they were a consistent threat throughout the game.
Flames defensemen Brett Carson made his season debut after being sidelined for the first two months of the season recovering from a back injury sustained over the summer.
Calgary’s season high three game win streak was snapped in the loss.
Rene Bourque missed today’s game as he is currently suffering through the flu that has been sweeping through the Flames locker room. Both Alex Tanguay and Curtis Glencross have previously missed game action as a result of this bug.
It has been speculated that former general manager and head coach of the Calgary Flames Darryl Sutter has been approached by the Los Angeles Kings to take over for recently fired Terry Murray as the teams head coach. I would personally like to see him get the opportunity, as his coaching pedigree speaks for itself as he led the underdog Flames to the Stanley cup finals in 2004. The problem lies in the fact that most observers feel Darryl is stuck in the past in regards to how he manages and views the game today. I would have to agree with them, as he made it quite apparent over his last few years as manager here in Calgary that he was not cut out for the new age NHL. With that being said, I wish him the best should this opportunity become reality.