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Conroy collects two goals, two assists in win

3/26/2002

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Mike Vernon is doing his best to salvage
the most frustrating season of his 17-year NHL career.

Conjuring up memories of his glory days in the late 1980s and
early '90s, Vernon made 32 saves, backstopping the Calgary Flames in
a 6-1 victory Monday night over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Craig Conroy scored twice and added two assists, and Jarome
Iginla scored his league-leading 44th goal and added two assists,
boosting his NHL-high points total to 83 as the Flames stopped an
eight-game winless streak (0-6-2).

"I've been ready for a long time to get a chance to play,"
said Vernon, making his first start at home since Dec. 29. "It has
been a little bit frustrating for myself, but when I do get to
play, I just try and go out there and stop the puck. Tonight, was a
fun night to play goal."

Vernon, who improved to 2-7-1, was especially strong in the
first period when he made 14 saves as Calgary built a 2-0 lead.

"He didn't give us very much," Blue Jackets coach Dave King
said. "When we got in close and got good chances, he made some
really, really good saves. He's a solid veteran goalie."

Steve Begin, Toni Lydman, and Dean McAmmond also scored for
Calgary. Blake Sloan and Jeff Shantz each contributed two assists
for the Flames, who are 10 points out of the eighth and final
playoff spot in the Western Conference with just nine games to go.

David Vyborny scored the lone goal for the Blue Jackets.

It was the first meeting between the teams since their game
March 16 in Columbus, when a slap shot from Blue Jackets center
Espen Knutsen deflected into the crowd and struck 13-year-old
Brittanie Cecil in the head. She died two days later, becoming the
first fan ever killed at an NHL game.

It's been a disappointing season for Vernon, whose only other
win was Dec. 10.

He's been injured and been placed on waivers twice. Recently, he
fell out of favor with general manager Craig Button and was sent to
the minors for three days.

"I'm a Calgary native, I'm a proud person, I'm proud to wear
the jersey and for that to happen, I was very disappointed in the
whole scenario," Vernon said. "We have kind of patched things up
but it's still disappointing."

The 39-year-old Vernon ranks seventh in career wins (385) and
has never won fewer than 12 games in a season.

Vernon got the start after he stopped all 16 shots Saturday
night in relief of Roman Turek in Calgary's 3-1 loss to Edmonton.

"In Edmonton, he was unbelievable, then he comes back and does
it again tonight," Conroy said. "Mike works so hard in practice
and he's been waiting to get a chance to play some games. Now he is
going to get a chance. It was great to see."

The Flames opened a 2-0 lead after the first period then scored
twice more in the second.

Begin opened the scoring 3:45 in when Shantz made a clever pass
in front of the net that he one-timed past goalie Marc Denis.

Conroy made it 2-0 at 14:03 when his pass out from behind the
net caromed off the skate of Columbus center Serge Aubin and went
between Denis' pads.

Conroy added his second of the game 56 seconds into the middle
period when he streaked in alone and blasted a slap shot past
Denis.

"Conroy was flying tonight," Iginla said. "He got the line
going, and me and Dean (McAmmond) just tried to keep up with him
out there."

After Vyborny's goal during a scramble, Calgary regained its
three-goal cushion on Iginla's score with just 20 seconds left in
the second period.

Game notes
Calgary matched its highest offensive output of the season
and won by a margin of more than four goals for the first time this
season. ... Calgary C Marc Savard was not in the lineup due to a
concussion sustained Saturday against Edmonton. ... Columbus C
Tyler Wright entered the game tied for the worst plus/minus in the
NHL with a minus-31. ... Shantz earned his 200th career point.