Posted on April 21, 2008 12:17 AM | Permalink
CALGARY - The last time Miikka Kiprusoff posted a playoff shutout was four years ago.
It was the third game of the 2004 Stanley Cup final series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Twenty-two post-season tilts had passed, but the Calgary Flames netminder picked a perfect time to deliver another.
Kiprusoff stopped 21 shots to backstop the Flames to a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks Sunday night at the Saddledome, which forces a seventh and deciding game in the opening round series.
“We played a strong game. I didn’t have to make too many huge saves,” Kiprusoff said. “It was nice to be a goalie behind that team tonight.
“This was a must-win for us and the same with the next one. I think it’s a pretty confident team.”
Forced to deliver a winning performance facing elimination, the Flames had their best game of the playoffs. They dominated in every facet and received timely goals from Owen Nolan and Daymond Langkow - his insurance tally coming with 56.2 seconds remaining in the second period.
“You have to give Calgary some credit and for some reason we were flat,” said Sharks head coach Ron Wilson. “We got beat in every possible category you can categorize. Our faceoffs, you don’t have offence if you don’t win faceoffs in the offensive zone. Shots on goal were irrelevant, we only had 14 hits. Seems every time we play in here we usually are about 30 per cent behind Calgary. I would say we had 20 hits and that’s not nearly enough and we never went to the difficult areas, the front of their net, you either get a rebound or make Kipper’s life difficult.”
The series will be decided Tuesday night in San Jose.
If the Flames can come up with another performance like they gave Sunday, they stand a good chance of advancing to the second round for the first time since their glorious run to the ’04 final.
“The most consistent effort, as opposed to complete effort,” said Flames head coach Mike Keenan. “We’ve had some good efforts, but consistency has hurt us a little bit, but that was the most consistent performance we’ve had to this point.
“We have the opportunity to play Game 7 and we’re looking forward to that opportunity. Hopefully we can used our experience and use our composure to play consistently well in San Jose.”
Now the onus is on San Jose to put away a Flames team that was seventh in the conference, well back of their No.-2 seeding.
“Yeah you want to finish them off. That was the plan, but they played well and it’s been a great series,” said Sharks star Joe Thornton. “Every team’s good. Every team that makes the playoffs is good.
“And they’re a great team.”
The Flames iced seven defencemen and sat out RW Eric Godard, although Jim Vandermeer was used almost exclusively as a forward. He even skated on the top line with Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow ... Jeremy Roenick was among the San Jose scratches.