February 20, 2011
CALGARY, Alberta -- After becoming the first goalie in NHL outdoor-game history to post a shutout, Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) stood in the Calgary Flames' dressing room next to a pile to discarded clothes. He made 39 saves in the Flames' 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens, but one of his best decisions was made back in the dressing room.
Game-time temperatures in the Heritage Classic started at minus-8.6 degrees Celsius and continued to plummet. The fanfare of the Classic's opening moments in McMahon Stadium left the goalie standing there in the cold. After the Habs managed only eight shots in the period, he began to feel its effects.
"It was a little bit standing around, and I didn't face many shots," he said. "The first period was pretty windy, colder. I had to add something after the first period."
So Kiprusoff and the Flames' equipment staff worked together on adding a few pieces of clothing to his gear between the first and second periods.
The previous day's practice had served as a trial run for clothing, he said. "I tried a diver's wetsuit [Saturday], but it was too hot."
He found better options between periods of the Classic. "We had a lot of good stuff to use. Second and third, I felt all right," he said.
As Kiprusoff felt more comfortable in the open air, the Canadiens kept him energized with 21 shots in the second frame, which he turned aside. It was the kind of activity a goalie needs in an outdoor game, as they're not afforded the same chances to warm up as the players on the heated benches.
But Kiprusoff worked through it, with coach Brent Sutter calling him "outstanding" in the game. "He was very focused. Again, he's been playing extremely well," said Sutter. "Pucks are hitting him, hitting him in the chest and he's doing a good job."
Kiprusoff now has four shutouts, matching his total in each of the last two seasons. More importantly, he's 7-1-2 in February and 11-2-5 in his last 18 games, helping the Flames storm back into a playoff seed.
In an outdoor game that saw the teams combine for 76 combined shots on goal, goaltending was going to be the difference. Especially when you factor in the unpredictable ice conditions and the fact that the game had fewer quality hits than Color Me Badd.
He was in the zone once the work rate picked up and he figured out how to stay warm ... given that there weren't other options for warming up that many, many, many patrons at the Heritage Classic chose to imbibe while sitting in the stands.
Kiprusoff was asked after the game if he wanted to warm up in Finland, what liquor he would drink.
"I'm an athlete," he deadpanned. "I don't drink liquor."