The Flames scored three times on the power play and once short handed in a 6-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. Chuck Kobasew and Kristian Huselius scored 65 seconds apart in the first, while Tony Amonte potted the short-handed goal 6:32 into the second to put the Flames up 3-1.
“Especially for a power play that’s been struggling, it’s huge to come out and get two goals right away,” said Amonte of Calgary’s strong start against Phoenix, which lost 5-2 in Edmonton to the Oilers the night before. “It just seemed like things started to fall into place after that. It was just a good all-around effort playing against a club that’s probably struggling a little bit, mentally as well.”
After the loss, Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky admitted that Amonte’s goal was most likely the turning point in the game.
“We gave up that stupid turnover and it’s 3-1,” Gretzky said. “When things are tough you’ve got to minimize your mistakes. A lot of unneccesary penalties in the third period and we get ourselves into another hole.”
Amonte was pleased to score the goal that seemed to deflate the spirits of the Coyotes, who fought back to within one goal late in the first period on a marker by Owen Nolan.
“They give one up when they’re shorthanded, that kills a team,” said Amonte, who picked up a turnover in the neutral zone before speeding into the Phoenix zone and sending a wrist shot past Coyotes’ netminder Mike Morrison. “To get that two-goal lead was huge for us.”
Roman Hamrlik led the scoring charge for Calgary with a goal and an assist, while Daymond Langkow added a pair of helpers. Jarome Iginla and Marcus Nilson also scored for the Flames, who halted a three-game losing streak in front of 19,289 fans at Pengrowth Saddledome.
“We’ve still got lots of things to work on, but we took a step in the right direction tonight,” said defenceman Robyn Regehr.
Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 26 of 27 shots to improve his record to 3-4-1. Last year’s Vezina Trophy and Jennings Trophy winner has played all eight games for Calgary so far this season.
The Coyotes (2-8-0) have now lost four straight and are in last place in the Western Conference.
“I think we hit rock bottom about a week ago,” said Phoenix forward Jeremy Roenick. “We’re just remaining there. It’s something I’ve never seen in my life. It’s utterly embarrassing.”
The Flames killed off three first-period power-play opportunities for Phoenix, including a two-man advantage that lasted 42 seconds. Kiprusoff made a pair of nice saves off point shots fired by defenceman Ed Jovanovski to keep the game scoreless.
Calgary opened the scoring on a two-man advantage of their own. Kobasew took a pass from Jamie Lundmark and quickly shovelled the puck past Phoenix netminder Mike Morrison at 14:41 of the first period.
Just 65 seconds later, Huselius scored his first of the season on another power play when he kicked the puck onto his stick and swatted it past Morrison.
Nolan replied for Phoenix before the end of the period when he backhanded a shot over Kiprusoff’s shoulder and into the top corner.
After Amonte’s goal, Kiprusoff made back-to-back pad saves off Phoenix forward Enver Lisin in the final minute of the second period to preserve Calgary’s two-goal lead.
Iginla opened scoring in the third with a perfect shot into the top corner past Joseph. Nilson’s goal followed when he converted a feed from Lombardi to make the score 5-1. Hamrlik rounded out the scoring with his first goal of the season on another Calgary man advantage.
Daymond Langkow had a great chance to add to Calgary’s lead, but his penalty shot attempt in the third hit the left post behind Joseph.
The Flames finished 3-for-10 on the man advantage, while the Coyotes failed to score on nine power-play opportunities.
Notes: Kiprusoff started the season off last year with a 2-4-1 record as well before he backstopped the Flames to a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on home ice on Oct. 20, 2005. He went on to win eight games in a row and finished the season with a 42-10-11 record and 2.07 goals against average. . . . Phoenix centre Mike Zigomanis, who has won 59.6 per cent of his faceoffs to rank third in the NHL so far this season, missed the game with a groin injury he suffered during the loss to Edmonton. . . . The Flames improved their all-time record over the Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets franchise to 66-57-22.