ALSO ON SLAM!
Sunday, December 26, 1999
Flames 2, CANUCKS 0
Brathwaite perfect for Flames
VANCOUVER (CP) -- Things are going so well for Calgary Flames goaltender Fred Brathwaite, he could afford to experiment a little.
Such as when Vancouver Canucks star forward Alex Mogilny was bearing down on a short-handed breakaway with the Flames clinging to a one-goal lead in the final seconds of the second period.
"When you have someone like that coming down 1-on-1 on you, you're pretty nervous and I tried something different," Brathwaite said after his second shutout in three games and third this month, 2-0 Sunday over the Canucks.
"I gave him a pokecheck and I was lucky to hit it."
Vancouver would manage just three more shots the rest of the game on Brathwaite, who finished with 27 saves and kept his club in the game in the first two periods.
He had a little luck in the third period when Mark Messier hit a post.
"That was a little knuckleball but when things are going good, the posts are a little bit bigger," said Brathwaite, who has lost only one of his last nine starts (7-1-1) and that was in overtime.
"The puck was about to go in and Derek Morris scooped it out for me."
Defencemen Morris and Phil Housley jumped into the play to beat Felix Potvin with shots to his glove side.
Morris scored his fifth goal of the season with a shot from the top of the face-off circle in the first period. Housley added his sixth with a seeing-eye backhander on a third-period power play.
"I'm going to take what the other team gives me," said Housley, who is two goals behind Denis Potvin for third place on the all-time list for goals by a defenceman.
"If it's not much, then you have to just be aware of that because there's a lot of good teams that play well defensively."
Brathwaite has allowed only two goals in his last four games and his current hot streak has propelled him to the top of the league in save percentage.
Vancouver, which has only one tie in four games against the Flames, was shut out for the first time this season. The Canucks, who left the ice to boos, have only one win and one tie in their last nine games.
"He gives you a lot of confidence, that's for sure," Calgary's Cory Stillman said of his diminutive five-foot-seven goalie. "The biggest thing when you go out there is not to be afraid to make a mistake.
"Lately if you make a mistake, Freddy's been there to bail you out. I think another key for us is Freddy plays the puck extremely well so any time there is a chance to shoot the puck out, Freddy's going to clear it himself."
Vancouver coach Marc Crawford said the play of Brathwaite, an Ottawa native signed last January from the Canadian national team, has given Calgary the confidence to play well, even without the puck.
"They're content to ride their hot goaltender," he said. "They almost like playing without the puck more than they like playing with it."
Vancouver defenceman Adrian Aucoin said Brathwaite was a factor in the win as Calgary was outshot 27-19, but not the reason the Canucks lost.
"I think it was our poor play probably lost the game for us," said Aucoin. "It was a goalie's dream, you just play the angles right, stop the first shot. He kept it simple and it was pretty much an easy game for him."
Notes: The Canucks conclude a six-game homestand Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers. ... Centre Jeff Shantz returned to the Calgary lineup after missing eight games with bruised ribs.