Kiprusoff beats Habs, new franchise wins leader

History was going to be made in Montreal. If Montreal won, Carey Price would have notched his 100th NHL win. If Calgary prevailed, Miikka Kiprusoff would become the Flames all-time leader in wins for a goaltender. Either way, one of the goaltenders would have a night for the record books.

The kid can wait—tonight was all about the veteran.

Kiprusoff was the difference maker in the Flames’ 4-1 victory in Montreal. The Finnish netminder stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced as he withstood a barrage of shots that lead Calgary to their first win of the year. The win was the 263rd with Calgary — his first 14 wins were with San Jose — moving him past Flames legend Mike Vernon for first on the all-time list. Of course, Vernon still has the edge on Kiprusoff in the all important Stanley Cup category.

It’s hard to believe the Flames acquired their franchise netminder eight years ago from the Sharks for a draft pick. Not a bad return for a 2nd rounder, eh? That first year with the Flames he cemented his place with the organization by posting an NHL record 1.69 goals against average that season and a stellar .933 save percentage en route to lead Calgary within a single game of the Stanley Cup. Kiprusoff knows things could have played out much differently if he was never traded to Calgary:

“I always believe everything happens for a reason. I had some tough times there in San Jose, but the Flames and Darryl wanted me here, they gave me a chance. It was great for me.”

Looking back, the move changed the fates for all parties involved. Kiprusoff was locked in a battle with Vesa Toskala for the right to be Evgeni Nabokov’s backup in San Jose. The Flames were looking for a decent netminder to challenge Roman Turek for the starting job between the pipes. Darryl Sutter made the trade and the rest is history.

Once again, Kiprusoff is going to carry a heavy workload as the Flames try to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Back-up Henrik Karlsson is supposed to get a few more starts this season to give the Finnish workhorse a break this season, but the fact remains that Kiprusoff has played 70+ games in each of the last five seasons. Even if he gets some much needed rest, he still could end up playing in 65+ games. As usual, the Flames playoff chances will rest on Kipper’s ability to hold it together in the net this season.

Either way, he’ll have ample opportunity to add to his franchise wins record, right?

Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

From the AHL:

With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

“Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.