Poetically in a season where Miika Kiprusoff's level of play has been questioned, it was the Finnish goaltender's miraculous play in the away teams net that saved the slim hopes of the Calgary Flames and kept the season alive. Kipper would make 34 saves on 35 shots, backstopping his team to a 2-1 Win against the Colorado Avalanche and therin gaining 2 points on the 8th placed Chicago Blackhawks to pull within one of a trip to the playoffs.
At the start of March, many experts believed that the Flames had the easiest schedule to play--focusing largely on the teams four matches against the lowly Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche (each to be played twice). The schedule as we've learned hasn't been without it's bumps and proved to be a lot more difficult than first thought, but the Flames have won the "easy games" and have at the very least kept the Western Conference playoff race tight going into the final few games of the season, this was supposed to be an "easy game" on paper, but the Colorado offense made it anything but easy.
Olli Jokinen got things started withthe first goal of the game in the second period, with a wrist shot assisted by Alex Tanguay and Jay Bouwmeester--up until this point, Av's goaltender Peter Budaj looked fantastic and had the Flames forwards completely baffled on 33 of their shots, and when you consider the 28-year old netminder had only registered one win in his last nine appearances, all signs pointed to "another one of those nights".
TheFlames would pad their lead in the 3rd period with Alex Tanguay's 21st of the year assisted by Captain Calgary, Jarome Iginla who once again comes through in the clutch for the Flames down the stretch. The security of two goals wouldn't last long as Milan Hejduk would break Kiprusoff's shutout bid, and turned the Flames bench into men of prayer as they attempted to keep the lead, and their hopes alive.
Thankfully, Mikka Kiprusoff came to the teams rescue on a multitude occasions-- and kept the Avalanche winless against himself on the season (going 5-0 against the division rival Avalanche). This was one of Miika's best games this season, especially when you consider only one other time in the 2010-11 campaign has he faced over 35 shots and had a higher save percentage (His Shutout at the Heritage Classic)-- this was vintage Kipper.
The big question now is-- can the Flames catch the Hawks? With one point separating the two teams from 8th and 9th(remember, Chicago holds the tiebreaker) Calgary will need to pick up 2 points on the Chicago squad, with only 2 games left on their schedule. The defending Cup champs have 4 games to make their way back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and if the new isn't bad enough, the Dallas Stars inched closer with a big win against the Ducks pulling their season total up to 89 points, just one win behind the Flames, and here's that same old broken record-- they have 2 games in hand. Onething to consider going forward, if these games are all for not and the Flames don't make the playoffs, these last few games have been catastrophic to the Flames future-- consider this, with todays win the Flames jumped up 3 spots in the league standings, and fell further down the draft board.
The next two games are going to be huge for the Flames, but it'll be the out of town scoreboard that will inevitably decide their fate.