CALGARY – With first place in the Northwest Division there for the taking, the Calgary Flames came through on the power play.
Daymond Langkow and Dion Phaneuf scored power-play goals 41 seconds apart in the third as the Calgary Flames rallied from behind for a pivotal 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. The win moves the Flames one point ahead of idle Minnesota and into top spot in the Northwest Division. Each team has five games remaining.
“It feels good but there’s no way in hell are we assured of anything right now with everything being so tight,” said Calgary left-winger Alex Tanguay.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the third period, the Canucks got into penalty trouble. They got caught with too many on the ice at 8:10 and then Taylor Pyatt took a tripping penalty at 9:36.
Although Vancouver survived the first penalty, the steady Calgary pressure led to Alex Burrows intentionally pushing the net off its moorings at 10:25, which resulted in another Calgary two-man advantage, this one for over a minute.
The Flames would need only 21 seconds to score, with Langkow redirecting a shot from Alex Tanguay past Roberto Luongo to tie the game.
Still with a one-man advantage, Calgary struck again when Adrian Aucoin fired a long pass from his own end to Phaneuf at the Vancouver blue-line. With the Canucks caught on a line change and scrambling to get back into the play, Phaneuf skated in and blasted a 40-foot slapshot into the top corner over Luongo’s blocker for the go-ahead goal.
“I saw them change and Aucoin made a really good play up and I had a little bit of room to walk into it,” Phaneuf said. “He came out and I just tried to get it up as quick as I could over him”.
Jarome Iginla added his 49th goal of the season for Calgary (40-27-10). The Flames have won four in a row at home and are 6-0-3 in their last nine at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Markus Naslund and Daniel Sedin scored for Vancouver (38-28-10), which still leads the season series 4-2. The Canucks remain tied for seventh in the Western Conference with Colorado. The ninth place Nashville Predators are just two points back with the hard-charging Edmonton Oilers three points out.
The Canucks were heading straight for the airport and a flight to Denver and a date Wednesday night with the Colorado Avalanche.
“It started in the second period, we didn’t make smart plays with the puck and kept turning a lot of pucks over and pretty much had to defend the whole second period,” said Canucks defenceman Sami Salo. “We have our next game tomorrow so we have to forget this one and regroup. It’s another huge game.”
Nearly three months since their last meeting on New Year’s Eve, the Flames and Canucks hooked up for the first of three meetings over the season’s final 13 days.
After getting outshot 21-7 and falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the Flames turned the momentum around in the second with a much more inspired 20 minutes in which they outshot Vancouver 18-3.
“The first thing we talked about when we came in here (after one period) was lets continue to get after them, lets not sit on this lead,” said Morrison.
“We say all the right things but then we go out there, and yeah they made some adjustments, but we got caught back on our heels a little bit, we weren’t getting pucks deep, we start taking penalties and the momentum of the game has completely shifted.”
Calgary cut its deficit to 2-1 on Iginla’s goal at 2:11.
“We just kept coming,” said Iginla. “we didn’t get discouraged, nobody got frustrated on the bench. We felt like we were going to find a way to get ourselves back in the game.”
Naslund opened the scoring at 9:29 on the power play knocking in a rebound after Kiprusoff had stopped Alex Edler’s slapshot”.
While he couldn’t be blamed on that goal, Kiprusoff was the culprit on the next one just 12 seconds later.
Trying to block Sedin’s centring pass from the corner, Kiprusoff instead had the puck deflect past off his goal stick and trickled through his legs.
Luongo made 37 saves in his 25th start in a row.
Kiprusoff was back in net for the second straight night for the Flames and had 32 saves. After taking the loss in Calgary’s 2-0 loss Monday night in Colorado, Kiprusoff played in both ends of a back-to-back for the first time since the signing of Curtis Joseph on Jan. 16.
Notes: Calgary LW Kristian Huselius was a healthy scratch. It was the first game missed for Huselius, who ranks second on the Flames in points (65) and third in goals (24). Rookie Dustin Boyd was inserted for him… Calgary RW Owen Nolan has no goals in 19 games. .. Aucoin’s assist was his 300th NHL point… Former Flame Byron Ritchie returned to the Vancouver line-up after sitting out the previous four games.