Flames 3, Canucks 1

Leland Irving earned his first NHL win by robbing last year’s

scoring champion with a game-saving stop.

His brilliant late save on Daniel Sedin was one of the 29 he

made to help the Calgary Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on

Friday night.

”It feels like it’s sinking in already,” said Irving, all

smiles while answering reporters’ questions. ”It was pretty

exciting to come into the room and have the excitement of all my

teammates cheering and being so happy for me.”

Irving preserved the win with a diving save off Sedin with one

minute left to play before Olli Jokinen scored an insurance goal

into an empty net.

”The first shot came through traffic and off my pad right to

him,” Irving said. ”I just pushed as hard as I could to get over

and I was able to get my arm on it. It was big.”

Curtis Glencross, Mikael Backlund and Olli Jokinen, with an

empty-netter in the final minute, each scored to help Calgary win

its third straight. Irving was making only his second NHL start

after an earlier call-up this month from Abbotsford of the AHL.

”He was very poised,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said. ”A

couple saves he made in the last two-and-a-half, three minutes were

obviously huge. He was very much under control.”

Dan Hamhuis scored for the Canucks, who lost for only the fourth

time in 16 games.

The clubs had combined for 12 goals in their two previous

meetings this season, but both goalies kept it scoreless through

the first 40 minutes.

The game got off to an ornery start as Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa

fought Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulos just 3 seconds after the opening

face-off. Kostopoulos suffered a cut near his left eye and went to

the dressing room but eventually returned.

The Flames outshot the Canucks 13-6 in the first period but

could not beat Roberto Luongo, who foiled Paul Byron on a

breakaway, and stopped Jokinen and Glencross on back-to-back


Hamhuis pulled Vancouver within a goal at 16:59 as he clanked in

a wrist shot off the post before Jokinen’s empty-netter. The

Canucks outshot the Flames 17-7 in the third.

”It’s something else seeing a goalie like Roberto Luongo stand

on his head at the other end,” Irving said. ”These are some

really cool memories that I will never forget.”

In the second period, Luongo stopped Lee Stempniak on a

breakaway after Vancouver’s fourth line had kept the puck in the

Calgary zone for a long stretch and was caught on a line


Glencross finally opened the scoring 2:36 into the third period

as he dashed into the slot and one-timed Jarome Iginla’s pass from

the corner. Iginla won a battle for the puck with Hamhuis and then

slid the puck behind Bieksa as he tried to block the pass.

Irving was forced to make several tough saves through most of

the third as the Canucks picked up the pace. Backlund put the

Flames ahead 2-0 with 5:52 to go after scooping up a blocked puck

and beating Luongo before he could get set.

Calgary outshot the Canucks 31-30, despite Vancouver’s late


”We were all there,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. ”We

all saw it. We were just terrible. There’s no other way to put it.

I’m shocked. I expected a lot more.”

Notes: Calgary played without high-scoring winger Alex Tanguay,

who missed his second game with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

… Brent Sutter coached his 200th game with the Flames. …

Vancouver D Keith Ballard missed his third straight game with back

spasms. Flames winger Rene Bourque returned to Calgary’s lineup

after he was suspended two games by the NHL for leaving his feet

when delivering a hit on Chicago D Brent Seabrook.