Huselius scored twice and neatly set up Dion Phaneuf’s game-winning goal as the Calgary Flames won 5-2 S over the Colorado Avalanche.
After being benched for parts of Thursday’s 7-5 loss to the Avalanche, Huselius responded with the kind of dazzling offensive display that had almost become routine during his recent NHL season-best 15-game scoring streak.
“Last game, we weren’t really sharp and they scored seven goals against us here in the Saddledome. Obviously, I didn’t play my best game and I wanted to come out tonight and play better,” said Huselius.
With the score tied 2-2, Phaneuf put the Flames ahead at 16:31 of the second on his 14th goal of the season. As Huselius cut towards the middle of the Colorado slot, he handily slid the puck back the opposite direction to a waiting Phaneuf, who blasted a slap shot past netminder Peter Budaj.
“When Dion joins the rush, he usually comes in flying and screams at you so you know he’s behind you,” said Huselius with a chuckle.
It’s the kind of pass Phaneuf is getting used to during what’s been a break-out season for the 28-year-old Swede.
“He’s very skilled, very shifty when he’s got the puck,” said Phaneuf. “Whether there’s three guys on him or not, he still makes the play. He was great again tonight. I can’t say enough about how creative he is with the puck.”
Huselius added his second of the night and 27th of the season at 9:08 of the third period.
Iginla and Stephane Yelle, with an empty-netter, also scored for Calgary (31-20-8).
“We took a couple steps backward the other night. Tonight we came out, everyone as a whole played a great game defensively for a full 60 minutes and that’s what won us the hockey game,” Phaneuf said.
In the back-and-forth Northwest Division playoff race, the Flames climb back into a tie for first place with Vancouver, although the Canucks hold one game in hand. Minnesota is just one point back.
Paul Stastny and Andrew Brunette scored for Colorado (28-26-4), which play in Vancouver Sunday night before returning home to play the Flames again on Tuesday night.
Colorado sits 10th in the Western Conference, nine points back of the Wild, which occupy the eighth and final playoff spot.
“Clearly the first game was good for us, but we’re right back where we were,” said Colorado winger Brad May. “Time’s running away on us, but we just have to make sure to turn it into a two-out-of-three series and hopefully get that one on Tuesday.”
After a lacklustre scoreless first period in which both teams combined for just nine shots on goal, both offences awakened in the second period.
Huselius opened the scoring at 2:59 but Colorado responded with goals just over three minutes apart to jump in front 2-1. However, Iginla’s power-play goal at 14:45 tied it again.
“We had a good effort tonight but we just ended up on the short end. We can’t look back now. It’s behind us and we have to learn from our mistakes,” said May. “We have to ramp it up for Tuesday. It’s an important game for us. They know it too. It’s important for them as well.”
Calgary lost David Moss to injury in the first period.
Colorado defenceman Ossi Vaananen was assessed a boarding major and game misconduct for a check from behind on the rookie forward, who went flying face first into the edge of the boards, a jolt that left him down on the ice bleeding from his lip.
Notes – Colorado RW Milan Hejduk played in his 600th NHL game… Colorado D Jordan Leopold did not play after hurting his wrist in Thursday’s game… At 313 career goals, Iginla is two away from passing Joe Nieuwendyk and moving into second place on the franchise all-time list. Theoren Fleury (364) is number one… Colorado C Joe Sakic is one goal away from tying Jari Kurri (601) for 16th place on the NHL all-time list… Stastny needs two more points to tie Alex Tanguay’s franchise record for most points by a rookie of 51, set in 1999-2000.