Despite the fact that some idiot in Vancouver thought it would be a good idea to shine a laser in Miikka Kiprusoff’s eyes all night, the Flames won 3-2 in the shootout, regaining their lead atop the Northwest Division and proving that they are the tougher team, mentally and physically.
Anyone who watched tonight would agree that this was one of the best games so far this NHL season. The Flames and Canucks both came out hitting, and played a very physical game to decide who would end up in 1st place in the NW division. The Canucks ended up with the short straw, after their captain gave up 3 goals in the shootout following an exciting game at GM Place. This was the first time in a long time where the Flames scored on all of their shootout opportunities, and they needed all 3 goal to secure the win.
This is a rivalry that is slowly proceeding towards “primary rival status” for the Flames. Calgary is one of the few teams in the NHL that has 2 legitimate rivals, and since the Edmonton Oilers have tanked this season, the Canucks have emerged as the primary rival for the Flames. It is well known that the Flames and Oilers had a great rivalry throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but since then the Canucks have emerged as the stronger team, they seem to be making a case to earn the distinction as the Flames’ primary rival.
Each time that the Flames or Canucks have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals (or won the cup, in the Flames case), they have played each other in the playoffs. Whether they like it or not, the Canucks and the Flames seem to be linked somehow. Their link extends to the playoffs, but it also seems to be evident in the regular season.
Tonight, the Flames and Canucks engaged in an epic battle that included 2 fights between Brandon Prust and Rick Rypien. It was evident from the beginning that the better goaltender would win, and tonight that goaltender was Miikka Kiprusoff. Kipper stopped 19 of 21 shots in regulation and one shot in the shootout. Canucks Captain , Roberto Luongo allow 2 goals in the first 3 periods and let in all 3 shots in shootout. Jamie Lundmark scored the winner for the Flames in the shootout as well as his 2nd period goal that tied the game at 2-2.
Rene Bourque opened the scoring for the Flames 9:36 into the 1st period on a nice drive to the net. He shot the puck over Luongo’s glove hand to take the 1-0 Lead. The Canucks answered with goals from Mikael Samuelsson in the first, and Daniel Sedin in the 2nd to take a 2-1 lead into the 3rd period.
The game went back and forth in the 3rd before Prust and Rypien’s second fight of the night. Seconds after the major penalties were assesed to the 2 fighters, Lundmark slipped a sneaky shot past Luongo to tie the game at 2-2.
Both teams pressed for the winning goal but Kipper and Luongo wouldn’t let anything into the net before the Shootout. Nigel Dawes and Kyle Wellwood both scored in the first round of the shootout. Olli Jokinen scored in the 2nd round before Ryan Kesler was stopped by Kiprusoff. Mayson Raymond scored in the 3nd round of the shootout but it was all for naught as Lundmark beat Luongo to win the game for the Flames.
Calgary has played 5 games in the past 7 days, winning 3 of those games. They continue at home next week against Colorado, Pittsburgh and Nashville.