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?