It might have taken Miikka Kiprusoff a few tries to earn his 300th career NHL win but on Wednesday night the Calgary Flames goaltender finally reached the milestone thanks to fellow Finn Olli Jokinen.
Jokinen was able to break a third-period tie with his third goal of the evening, beating San Jose Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi after a costly turnover by defenseman Colin White which gave the Flames a 4-3 win at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. With the win Kiprusoff became the 27th NHL goaltender to reach the milestone; accomplishing the feat in the same building he earned the first win of his career back in 2001.
"It's a nice number," Kiprusoff said. "Right now it's not that big a deal. It's nice, but we have a job to do here. We're fighting for the playoffs, and we need those wins. But, yeah, it's a good number."
Kiprusoff began his career with the Sharks, who selected the 6-foot-2 goaltender 116th overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He played two seasons with San Jose – where he spent much of his time as the third goaltender on the depth chart – before being traded to the Flames in 2003 for a second round draft pick. He was brought in to replace starter Roman Turek after he went down with an injury.
The Flames would ride Kiprusoff to a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season with the team but would come up just one win shy of its first cup since 1989. In 38 regular season games, he put together 24 wins and 10 losses and a 1.69 goals-against-average and managed to get hot just as the playoffs started, helping him earn a potential bid for the Vezina Trophy. Two years later he would win the trophy.
The 35-year-old is still amongst the NHL’s elite at the position of goaltender. In 47 games this season, Kiprusoff has a 24-17 record with a 2.30 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage. The Flames are currently 10th in the Western Conference standings and are just one point out of the playoff picture. It’s going to take a few more wins from Kiprusoff if Calgary wants any shot at a playoff berth.
And in the end 300 is just a number. He just wants a cup!
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS