NHL Game Summary - Phoenix at Calgary
(Wednesday, March 31st)
Final Score: Calgary 2, Phoenix 1
Calgary, AB (Sports Network) - Miikka Kiprusoff was very strong in net with 29 saves, and the Calgary Flames edged the Phoenix Coyotes, 2-1, to give their playoff chances an enormous boost.
Rene Bourque and Ales Kotalik each scored for the Flames, who have won two straight to climb to within two points of the fading Colorado Avalanche, the current eight seed in the Western Conference. The Avs, who lost Wednesday to Anaheim, will host Calgary at Pepsi Center on Friday in a game that has huge playoff implications.
Kiprusoff notched his 34th win of the season for the Flames.
"We needed a sense of urgency and we got that tonight," said Calgary head coach Brent Sutter. "Right now just being good isn't good enough; right now we need excellence. We need to continue to be resilient."
Lee Stempniak scored the only goal for the Coyotes, who have lost four of five and squandered a chance to gain ground on the Sharks in the Pacific Division. Phoenix, which has already set a franchise record for wins and points, stands four points behind San Jose with four games to play. Phoenix is still six points ahead of fifth-place Nashville.
Jason LaBarbera, getting the start because the team rested Ilya Bryzgalov, allowed both goals on 31 shots in defeat.
"I thought our guys pushed hard tonight but we couldn't get the one we needed to tie it up," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett. "You knew that (the Flames) were going to play a very hard and determined game. We had some opportunities that just didn't go for us tonight."
Neither team could get on the scoreboard in the opening period, with Kiprusoff making 11 saves and LaBarbera nine.
Calgary finally broke through with a power play tally with 5:37 remaining in the second. With Mathieu Schneider off for holding, Ian White sent a blistering shot from the left side that deflected off Bourque's right knee and into the top right corner of the net.
Phoenix nearly tied it in the final moments of the frame, but Stempniak was denied by Kiprusoff at point-blank range.
The Flames then doubled their advantage 3:46 into the third period on Kotalik's snap shot from the slot that found its way underneath LaBarbera's left pad.
Stempniak made up for his earlier failure with a one-timer from close range at the 13:08 mark, but the Coyotes couldn't solve Kiprusoff again despite pulling the goaltender for an extra skater in the final seconds.
Stempniak tied a career-high with his 27th goal of the season. He has 13 goals in 14 games with Phoenix since coming over in a trade deadline deal from Toronto...The home team won each of the four games in this series...Phoenix had been 15-for-15 on the penalty kill in its previous five games, but Calgary went 1-for-4 with the man advantage on Wednesday...Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester had an assist and extended his longest active NHL iron-man streak to 419 games.
04/01 00:55:38 ET