CALGARY – The Calgary Flames ended a four-game losing streak by beating up on a team mired in a deep slump of its own.
Matthew Lombardi and Dustin Boyd scored short-handed goals in a three-goal second period as the Flames overcame a 2-1 first-period deficit and beat the struggling Montreal Canadiens 6-2 Monday.
Lombardi tied the game at 11:36, pouncing on a Sergei Kostitsyn miscue and racing in alone on Jaroslav Halak, beating the Montreal goaltender with a backhander.
Thirty-two seconds later, Dion Phaneuf’s shot deflected in off a Canadiens player to give Calgary its first lead of the night.
At 18:43 it was Andrei Markov’s turn to mishandle the puck on a Canadiens power play. Eric Nystrom passed the puck ahead to Boyd, who went in all alone on Halak to score his first in 16 games and send the sell-out crowd of 19,289 into a frenzy.
“We’re really happy with the way we played. That’s the kind of game we were looking for – a lot of energy and playing a full 60 minutes,” said Lombardi, who also added two assists.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens held players-only meeting that lasted over 30 minutes after their sixth road loss in a row and eighth defeat in their last 10 games.
“A lot of good things were said. Hopefully it’s a step in the right direction,” said Montreal all-star defenceman Mike Komisarek.
The Canadiens were making their first stop on a season-high six-game road trip. They play in Edmonton next on Wednesday night.
“The first thing is to really try and forget the last two weeks,” said Montreal captain Saku Koivu. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves and we know the situation that we’re in. We’re the only ones that are going to dig ourselves out of that hole”.
When asked if the meeting was a passionate one, Koivu responded, “we’re trying to bring the passion back onto the ice, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Michael Cammalleri, Rene Bourque and David Moss also scored for Calgary (31-18-4). The victory gave the Flames a nine-point lead over Minnesota atop the Northwest Division.
Flames coach Mike Keenan tied Pat Quinn for fourth all time in NHL coaching wins with 657.
Matt D’Agostini and Tomas Plekanec replied for Montreal (29-19-6).
“Right now we still have games, we still have time to come back and turn this thing around,” said Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau. “Tonight was a good time to do that, between the players to air out whatever concern they have and try to pull back again together.
“Right now we’re not playing with confidence. It seems that every time we make a mistake it’s in our net. Making plays and making passes is really hard because of the confidence that we don’t have.”
Komisarek agreed that the Canadiens are not playing with confidence.
“It’s got to come between the ears,” said Komisarek. “You’ve got to have the mental toughness. We’re a fragile team, we just need to build on any momentum that we get whether it’s one shift, one period, one game, and it’s going to take everyone.”
Halak was peppered for 41 shots in his first stare in nine games. His record droppped to 11-10-1.
Trailing 2-1 after 20 minutes, Calgary poured it on in the second, outshooting Montreal 20-4.
Despite the disparity in shots, the biggest save of the period belonged to Kiprusoff. After going over 14 minutes without facing a shot, Kiprusoff stacked his pads to deny Andrei Kostitsyn of what looked like the tying goal.
“It was one of those plays where you just have to throw up something and hope and I was lucky enough that I got a glove on it,” said Kiprusoff, who made 22 saves to improve to 31-15-3.
Boyd’s short-handed goal came just over 30 seconds later.
“Our penalty killers were huge for us tonight,” said Phaneuf. “They work hard every night, night in, night out, blocking shots and for them to be rewarded offensively, it was good to see.”
With the teams playing four skaters aside, Montreal took a 2-1 lead at 18:41 of the first period.
Flames defenceman Mark Giordano lost the puck deep in the Canadiens zone, resulting in a long two-on-one for Montreal that ended with Alexei Kovalev neatly setting up Plekanec’s one-timer.
In Montreal’s first visit to Calgary in over three years, D’Agostini opened the scoring at 10:17 of the first period when Chris Higgins found the Canadiens rookie open in the slot with a centring pass.
The lead lasted less than three minutes as Cammalleri deflected in Adam Pardy’s tricky bouncer from the blue-line at 12:55 tying it 1-1.
Notes: Calgary entered the night having scored just three short-handed goals all season. Montreal had only surrendered four prior to Monday night… In his four starts this season after having a game off, Kiprusoff is 2-1-1 with a 3.36 goals against average… Iginla has two goals in his last 16 games and has only scored in four of Calgary’s last 26 games. Other Flames mired in lengthy goal droughts include Curtis Glencross (12 games), Daymond Langkow (10) and Craig Conroy (10)… The Flames broke up two of their defence pairings. Formerly with Pardy, Phaneuf partnered with Giordano while Pardy and Cory Sarich played together.