The Calgary Flames played their final home game of the 2013 NHL season Friday night, but it was more than your typical finale. In net for likely the final time in front of the ScotiaBank Saddledome faithful was Miikka Kiprusoff, whose future is up in the air despite having another year left on his contract.
Given how much love there is in Calgary for Kipper, he was more than likely going to be the honorary No. 1 star against the Anaheim Ducks, no matter the result; except that the 36-year old netminder earned the honor with a 32-save performance in a 3-1 win.
As time wound down in the third period, the crowd chanted KIP-PER! KIP-PER! as they said goodbye to their last remaining "face of the franchise", now that Jarome Iginla is a Pittsburgh Penguin:
"It was an unbelievable feeling," said Kiprusoff after improving upon his franchise record with his 305th win as a Flame.
Not only a crowd favorite, Kiprusoff is also beloved inside the Flames' locker room. "They won't let me go," he said when asked if his teammates have been trying to convince him to come back next season.
"Let's hope it's not his last one," said Brian McGrattan, who's goal early in the third period gave the Flames a 2-0 lead. "He's been the heart and soul of this team for many years. I think most of us had goosebumps on the bench. Let's hope he's back."
Kiprusoff hasn't confirmed his future plans, saying he'll evaluate things after the season; but his reaction to the cheers from Flames fans was a pretty good indication he will hang them up after a 12-year NHL career.
"If you look at other Canadian cities, it can be tough times for goalies," said Kiprusoff.
"The crowd can be tough on them. I've been lucky. I have a feeling always they're behind me."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy