CALGARY – Make it four straight wins since Flames head coach Brent Sutter shuffled his line combinations.
Curtis Glencross scored twice Saturday night as Calgary’s newly-formed top unit collaborated on all three goals to lead the Flames over the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-1.
After a 5-1 thumping on home ice last Sunday at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks, Sutter vowed changes. The next night Olli Jokinen was out and Daymond Langkow was in as Jarome Iginla’s centre and Glencross took over on the left wing.
Against a stubborn but struggling Maple Leafs team, Iginla scored once and added two assists and Langkow set up all three goals including Glencross’ empty-netter with under a minute left to play.
“All the way through with this mix-up, we’ve been going pretty good,” said Iginla. “We’re just trying to get shots, hound them, get a forecheck, and as a line, we’ve been getting some chances and it’s nice to see them go in tonight.”
Calgary (23-12-5) is on a four-game winning streak and will try for a season-best fifth consecutive win Tuesday night in Nashville.
Jason Blake scored the lone goal for Toronto (14-18-9), which have lost six of their last seven on the road and remain second-last in the Eastern Conference, eight points up on the Carolina Hurricanes.
“There are some great players over there and you just have to be aware when they’re on the ice and limit the turnovers,” said Blake. “When Iginla’s on the ice, you have to know where he’s at and where’s his next move.”
Trailing 1-0 after the opening 20 minutes, Calgary forged its way into the lead with a dominant second period in which they scored 52 seconds apart and outshot the Leafs 18-7.
Iginla tied it at 10:35 capping off an eventful sequence that began after Toronto defenceman Mike Komisarek lost the puck in a collision with Iginla in front of the Leafs net.
Langkow pounced on the turnover letting go a dangerous shot that went off the shoulder of goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. The puck was about to bounce into the net when Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle cleared the puck off the goal line but unfortunately right to Iginla in the slot who fired back into the net.
On Calgary’s third power play of the second period Glencross snapped a shot past Gustavsson on the glove side, connecting against the league’s worst penalty kill.
“We’ve had a pretty consistent work ethic through the whole line-up and that’s how you get success, you need four lines to play the game,” said Glencross, who has three goals in two games after snapping a 10-game drought.
As is typical when Toronto visits the Pengrowth Saddledome, the sea of red formed by the sell-out crowd of 19,289 was infiltrated by thousands of jersey-wearing Leafs supporters.
Throughout the game, chants of “Go Leafs Go” broke out before the home fans eventually drowned them out with “Go Flames Go” cheers.
Toronto made a push in the third period firing 10 shots on Miikka Kiprusoff, but could not get the tying goal past the 33-year-old Finn.
“We didn’t really respond to that adversity as well as we would have liked,” said Leafs forward Lee Stempniak. “We had a good first period and played our game but got away from it, and by the time we got back to it in the third the game was away from us.”
Kiprusoff had 24 saves to improve to 21-10-5. Kiprusoff improves to 4-0 with just three goals against on 113 shots in his last four starts immediately following a one game rest.
Toronto went 0-for-4 on the power play while Gustavsson played well making 32 stops to fall to 7-7-7.
“We didn’t win any battles for loose pucks,” said Leafs coach Ron Wilson. “The other team is working hard, and desperate, and when you’re not as desperate as they are on the power play, you’re not going to be very effective.”
Toronto took the lead 3:36 into the game on Blake’s gritty individual effort. Looking like he might carry the puck behind the net as he darted down the wing, Blake instead cut sharply to the front of the net with the puck fluttering high in the air and trickling in off Kiprusoff’s leg.
Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf did not play in the third period, though team officials did not disclose the reason.
Notes: It was retro night at the Pengrowth Saddledome. The Flames wore their old red and yellow jerseys and special guests included the original Hansen brothers from the 1977 movie “Slapshot”… Calgary entered the night leading the league in fighting majors (43). Philadelphia ranks second (36). …Eight of Calgary’s last 15 games have ended in a 2-1 score. Calgary’s record is 4-4 in those games. …Toronto has lost five straight in Calgary since last winning Dec. 27, 2002. …calgary is tied for the league lead with six short-handed goals while the Flames have only surrendered one. The net of plus-five is tops in the NHL.