CALGARY – It’s taken rookie Roman Horak a month to give the Calgary Flames a glimpse of the player who impressed them during pre-season.
Horak notched his first NHL goal and added an assist, Rene Bourque scored twice and the Calgary Flames held on for a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.
After Kyle Quincey opened the scoring for Colorado at 10:50 of the first period, Horak tied it three minutes later with a highlight reel goal. He fended off the backcheck of Chuck Kobasew and then, while falling, tapped the puck out of the air and past goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
“I just tried to put everything on net and when you put something on net, something good happens, and that’s what happened today,”said Horak, who had 78 points in 64 games with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins last year.
“He’s a really intelligent player in all three zones,”said Flames coach Brent Sutter.“For a young guy, he’s done a really good job.”
Ryan Wilson also scored for Colorado (6-3-0), which snapped a six-game road winning streak. The Avs were one game short of the franchise-record for consecutive road wins.
“If you look at the games we’ve played this season, whenever we’ve found ourselves down a bit in the third period, we’ve found a way to come back and at least give ourselves a shot and that says a lot about us,”said Colorado centre Ryan O’Reilly.
Horak was the talk of the Flames training camp with Sutter continually complimenting his two-way play. The 20-year-old was acquired from the New York Rangers in June for unsigned 2009 Flames first round draft pick Tim Erixon.
However, the regular season has been a struggle for the young Czech, who entered the night with no shots and one assist in five games, having been a healthy scratch twice.
“It’s a way different game when the regular season begins,”said Horak.“In the pre-season, there are still young guys in the lineup and the older guys are just starting to get into it.”
Horak’s goal ended a scoreless stretch of 122 minutes 55 seconds for the Flames, who were shut out 2-0 at home to Nashville on Saturday and entered the night having scored just four goals in its previous three games.
Horak was also in on Lee Stempniak’s goal 4:31 into the second period, which put the Flames ahead for good.
Giguere gave up a rebound and after Avs defenceman Erik Johnson whiffed on his clearing attempt, Stempniak poked the loose puck into the net for his first as a Flame.
The Flames expanded their lead to 3-1 at 9:27 of the second on Bourque’s fourth goal.
After being tested only five times in the first period, Miikka Kiprusoff made 30 saves over the final two periods including 19 stops in the third, only surrendering Wilson’s goal at 15:29 of the third.
“We still could play better,” said Bourque. “We kind of let them back in the game there in the third, but Kipper played well and made some big saves. Credit to him for keeping us in there at the end.”
Calgary (3-4-1) improves to 2-1-1 through the first four games of its season-long six-game homestand.
The third period domination by Colorado was a stark contrast to the first period when Calgary controlled the play outshooting the Avalanche 21-5.
“Our goaltender gave us a good chance in the first period. We were very fortunate to be 1-1,”said Colorado coach Joe Sacco.“What we saw in the third period is more of a reflection on how we play.”
Calgary led 11-1 in shots when Bourque took an offensive zone penalty that was promptly converted by the Avalanche for a power-play goal at 10:50 of the first.
Paul Stastny’s close-in chance rang off the post but caromed out the other side and onto the stick of Quincy who rapped it in.
“There are games like that, it’s part of goaltending,”said Kiprusoff, who was celebrating his 35th birthday.“You have to just keep doing the same things, it doesn’t matter whether it’s 15 shots, or five shots, or one shot–you just have to keep your eyes onthe puck and keep it simple and not think about too much.”
Giguere finished with 30 saves on 34 shots.
The Avalanche now head home where they’ll play 14 of their next 18 games at the Pepsi Center.
Notes: LW Curtis Glencross (lower body) did not play for Calgary. Inserted into the lineup as one of seven defencemen dressed was Anton Babchuk, who sat out five of the last six games. … Colorado was playing its first game within its division. Last year, they were 7-16-1 against the Northwest. … Calgary won five of the six meetings between the two teams last year. … Stastny’s assist gives him 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) against Calgary in 31 games, the most against any NHL team.