The Calgary Flames’ sluggish offense finally showed some signs of life in the finale of a four-game homestand. Duplicating that success could prove to be difficult Sunday when they visit a Minnesota Wild team that shut them out four days ago.
The Flames look to build on their highest-scoring game in five weeks and put an end to their offensive woes against the Wild.
Despite having scored the second-fewest goals in the NHL with 161, Calgary (31-24-9) is in the mix for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. The play of Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) is a big reason the Flames are in this position, as he boasts one of the league’s best goals-against averages at 2.22.
While Kiprusoff has bailed out the lowly offense several times, Calgary didn’t need to rely on him Friday against New Jersey. Five players scored in a 5-3 win, the Flames’ highest-scoring game since a 6-1 victory over Edmonton on Jan. 30.
Calgary hopes this is a sign of things to come after scoring seven goals in winning once in its previous five games.
“Obviously you’re thinking about it. Especially when you’re losing,” said center Daymond Langkow(notes), who ended his 21-game goal-scoring drought Friday. “You feel like you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing out there and then maybe you change your game a little bit and it just gets worse.
“It was nice to get five. That’s the way we’ve got to play every night, with that same emotion and intensity.”
Backstrom was Kiprusoff’s backup for bronze-medal winning Finland at the Vancouver Games and has upstaged his Olympic teammate in the series recently.
The Wild have won four straight over the Flames with Backstrom in net for each, stopping 103 of 105 shots while recording two shutouts. Kiprusoff has a 3.46 GAA in those losses after posting a 1.56 GAA in winning the previous five.
After beating Kiprusoff in the first game after the Olympics, Backstrom had another stellar performance Friday at Edmonton, but Minnesota’s offense came out flat. Backstrom made 22 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the league’s worst club - a disheartening effort for a Wild team with playoff aspirations.
“We have to be better than that. There are no excuses. We just didn’t play good hockey. We didn’t play as well as we should have. We need every point we can get and we let one slip away.”
The Wild hope to get things turned around with a return to Minnesota, where they’ve won nine of 12. This stretch began with a 4-1 victory over the Flames on Jan. 6.