By Mark Miller - Calgary Sun
Feb 24, 1996
Don't let the pads and mask fool you.
Flames goalie Rick Tabaracci is a defenceman masquerading as a goalie.
The feisty netminder has never adhered to the job description of simply stopping pucks.
Last night he levelled hits, made passes, stickhandled out of trouble and even had a late-game scoring chance.
Tabaracci combined all those elements with solid shot-blocking in leading the Flames to a 3-2 win over Anaheim, the third straight victory for the second-year Flame.
"Playing the puck is a big part of my game and I'd like to think it's an advantage for us," said Tabaracci.
The Flames goalie denies unconvincingly that he looks for hits on opposing for wards but teammate Theoren Fleury knows better.
"Hey, he's always been like that -- I was on the receivmg end of one of those hits when he was in Winnipeg," laughs Fleury.
"He's great with the puck, heck, he can stickhandle up the middle and join the rush as long as he keeps stopping the puck like that."
Fleury broke open a tie game in the third period with a pair of goals, giving him 34 on the year.
The third period outburst by Fleury highlighted a defensive battle -- the Ducks were without high-scoring winger Teemu Selanne who was in Winnipeg for the birth of his first child, a boy.
The Ducks made it close when Paul Kariya batted in a loose puck on a powerplay with 6: 32 left in the third period but Tabaracci slammed the door shut with a series of saves to preserve the win.
With less than a minute left, Tabaracci fired a clearing shot that was headed for the empty Ducks goal until it deflected off a stick.
"I wasn't thinking about scoring but when I shot it I thought it had a chance until it hit a shaft," laughed Tabaracci, who says he's only been close to scoring in the NHL one other time.
It was Tabaracci's clutch saves which produced the win.
In the first period, Tabby was left alone when four of five Flames tried to get off
the ice on a change while the Ducks had the puck at Calgary's blueline.
The ice opened up for a Ducks two-on-none break and Tabaracci made a spectacular glove save on a Todd Krygier shot, falling back into the net and losing his facemask in the process.
Undaunted, he jumped up and faced the play barefaced until the Flames were able to clear the puck.
Not content with just making saves, Tabaracci then went after a puck in the corner and flattened Ducks forward Garry Valk with a shoulder to the chest.
"1 thought I better hit him so he doesn't hit me and keep me out of the net," said Tabaracci.
The Flames provided little offence in the first and it was Tabaracci who initiated the play that led to the game's first goal in the second period.
He fired the puck up the boards on a Ducks change. Defeneseman Steve Chiasson tipped it up to Cory Stillman, who passed it off to a streaking German Titov, who deked Ducks defenseman Jason York at the blueline and fired a low shot past goalie Mikhail Shtelenkov.
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