Puck Blog

For one night, Flames have advantage over Khabibulin


Well, Monday night, after looking all but done, the Flames got themselves back into their series against the Blackhawks with a 4-2 victory at the Saddledome. Calgary forward Eric Nystrom said this about Nikolai Khabibulin, “He’s a world-class goalie. He’s a great goalie. The way you beat him is just to put pucks there. It’s eventually going to go in. You’ve got to put bodies there, too, and I think we did a great job of that tonight.”

Game 4 is Wednesday night at 10 PM ET.

Flames burn down ‘Bulin Wall

Solid effort all-around gives Calgary new life in series against Chicago

Last Updated: 21st April 2009, 1:07 am

The Wall has cracks after all.

And the Calgary Flames have life in the series.

One more goal in each of their first two games was all that kept the Flames from coming away from Chicago with a 2-0 lead instead of an intimidating deficit in the first-round matchup.

One goal changed their fortune last night at the Saddledome in a 4-2 Flames victory that helped them climb back into the fight.

It wasn’t a pretty one, but neither the Flames nor their fans will complain when Nikolai (The ‘Bulin Wall) Khabibulin gives up a soft one.

Rene Bourque’s wraparound bank-shot that hit Khabibulin’s pad and slid through the five-hole gave the Flames their first lead of the game with less than three minutes to play in the second period.

They didn’t give up the lead this time.

“We learned from our mistakes and we knew how we had to play to keep the lead,” said Eric Nystrom, who tied things at 1-1 early in the first period. “We got the next goal, which was huge, and we got the next one to seal the deal. You’ve got to stay on the hunt.

“That was the difference tonight.”

Bourque’s didn’t hold up as the winner, but boosting the confidence of a snakebitten Flames squad that hasn’t had an easy time against the Blackhawks backstop over his career, they charged out of the room in the final frame and added to the lead just 1:18 in.

It was David Moss — earning his first of two over the final 20 minutes — pushing the puck into a gaping cage to give the Flames a two-goal cushion.

He made it 4-1 minutes later courtesy of a lucky bounce off his skate as he charged the net.

It was more than luck, however, that gave the Flames their first win this spring.

It was good, old-fashioned, green hard-hat-type workmanship.

Todd Bertuzzi became the power forward many might remember from earlier in the Millennium.

Bourque overcame obvious pain to put in a full night’s effort.

Moss continues to bloom as a clutch sniper unafraid of the punishment he takes for going to the net.

Oh, and the other goaltender, Miikka Kiprusoff, was in fine form as he rejected 36 of the 38 shots sent his way.

“All year, we struggled against them. We haven’t played up to our potential,” said defenceman Adrain Aucoin, relieved to finally beat the Hawks and Khabibulin. “We’d seen a couple of flashes the last two games, but tonight was our wire-to-wire best effort.”

The goal-scorers were Moss, Bourque and Nystrom, but you have to give credit to the supporting roleplayers on each of those tallies.

Rookie defenceman Adam Pardy forced Khabibulin to give up a juicy rebound right back up the gut with his individual rush to the blue paint and Moss was Johnny-on-the-spot to make it 3-1.

Owing his game-turning goal to the legwork of Olli Jokinen — until now barely mentioned in the series unless it was for his lack of an offensive presence — Bourque wouldn’t have been in prime position for an attempt without Jokinen out-hustling Hawks captain Jonathan Toews to push the puck deep and set up the attack.

Anyone looking for bad omens might have considered the Sea of Red’s inability to sync up both sides of the building for its first ‘Go Flames Go’ chant an early one.

The Flames weren’t in sync in the opening minutes, either.

Taking advantage with a scoring chance on the first shift, the Blackhawks showed no signs of intimidation.

Even less after they opened the scoring on the powerplay 2:03 into the game.

Patrick Sharp had an easy tap-in set up by Toews with Jokinen in the box for goaltender interference.

Nystrom gave the sold-out Saddledome new life with his first career playoff goal less than five minutes later, roofing the puck past Khabibulin to tie things at 1-1.

Again, partial credit has to go to the other Flames on the ice.

Screening Khabibulin was Warren Peters, who suited up for his first NHL playoff game instead of Jamie Lundmark. Feeding Nystrom was Curtis Glencross, who took a pass from defenceman Adrian Aucoin and raced up the wing before spotting the open man across the ice.

Contributions came from all around, and the flames will need more of that tomorrow night as they try to even the series in Game 4 at the Dome.