Flames top Wild 2-1 to take over first in Northwest Division

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

ST. PAUL, Minn. - What a difference a week can make.

Fresh off an overtime win last Sunday, Minnesota led Calgary by six points in the Northwest Division. Seven days later, the Wild are looking up at the Flames.

Daymond Langkow and Craig Conroy scored, Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 38 shots and the Flames beat Minnesota 2-1 Sunday to replace the Wild atop the Northwest Division.

Calgary has won four straight - including three in a row over division leaders - and six of eight. The Flames have beaten Minnesota four straight times.

"It's crazy. Every game is huge, and I think that's how it's going to be the rest of the year," Kiprusoff said. "We can't worry too much about other teams. We just have to keep winning."

Mark Parrish scored for Minnesota, which is winless in three straight. The Wild hadn't lost more than two in a row since going 0-4-1 from Oct. 24-Nov. 1. The Wild are 4-6 since Feb. 2, with their wins coming in overtime or a shootout.

"We're not that bad, but we're slipping. That means that other teams are doing better than we are," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said.

The Flames, for example.

Captain Jarome Iginla said recent road wins in Dallas and Minnesota sandwiched around a home win against Detroit may not have been pretty, but each time the end result has been two points.

"Tonight we got outshot, but found a way to win it," he said. "We know we have to play better and move the puck the way the Wild did today, especially coming out of their own zone to create chances for themselves."

Calgary has been outshot 108-60 in its past three games - all wins.

"We played a very conservative game to take away as much neutral zone as we could," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. "You have to win in different ways, and I'm happy with the way we won today."

Kiprusoff, who also made 38 saves in blanking the Red Wings 1-0 Friday, made his biggest saves during a Minnesota power-play flurry late in the second period.

He stopped Brian Rolston from the left circle and slid across to stop the rebound attempt by Mikko Koivu. He also made a pad save to stop Branko Radivojevic early in the third period. Kiprusoff is 18-5-1-2 lifetime against Minnesota, the most wins by any goaltender against the Wild. He has a career 1.70 goals-against average and .936 save percentage against the Wild.

"Kipper's played pretty well all year, but he's been pretty much unbeatable this week," said Iginla, who had an assist.

Langkow was alone in front to tip a pass from Iginla past Niklas Backstrom midway through the opening period for a 1-0 lead. It was the Flames' seventh power-play goal in eight games.

Minnesota thought it tied the game midway through the second.

After Kiprusoff made a pad save on a shot by Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Aaron Voros was dragged down by Flames defenceman Jim Vandermeer in a battle for the rebound. Sliding toward the net, Vandermeer appeared to kick the puck across the goal line as Voros slid into Kiprusoff.

Referee Brad Meier immediately waived off the goal. He refused to comment to a pool reporter after the game.

"He said the goalie couldn't react to the puck. He couldn't move to go and get that puck because he was hit," Lemaire said.

Less than three minutes later, Conroy completed a 2-on-1 with Owen Nolan by beating Backstrom with a snapshot from the slot for a 2-0 lead. The assist gave Nolan his 800th career point.

"We're at least back where we wanted to be," Conroy said. "Now we just got to keep winning, and hope some of these guys can lose for us, but it doesn't seem that way that many nights."

Parrish scored 38 seconds into the final period, knocking home a rebound of a tip that was stopped by Kiprusoff.

"Unfortunately at this time of year, it's not enough just to go out and work hard. You need to pick your level up and play with a playoff type of mentality and that type of style," Parrish said.

Notes: Calgary is 18-0-3 when leading after two periods. ... Wild D Keith Carney played his 1,000 career game. ... Minnesota has lost four of its past six home games. ... Langkow has 28 points in 35 career games against Minnesota. ... Minnesota dropped just its second game when allowing less than three goals.



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