CALGARY – The Calgary Flames continued their domination of the Colorado Avalanche, thanks to a second period coaching display form veteran Brendan Morrison.
Lee Stempniak, Curtis Glencross and Olli Jokinen all scored their eighth goals of the season in the third period as Calgary came from behind for a 3-2 victory over the Avalanche on Thursday.
And while he didn’t score, Morrison assisted on the Flames’ ninth straight victory over Colorado in more ways than one.
Not only did the 36-year-old set up both Flames power play goals, which gave Calgary a 2-1 lead, his second intermission pep talk turned around the fortunes of a slumbering power play.
The Flames were mired in 1-for-35 tailspin with the extra man over the past eight-plus home games—including 0-for-5 in the first two periods on Thursday. But Calgary’s power play broke out in a big way, connecting on both ends of a high-sticking double-minor to T.J. Galiardi in the third period.
The goals by Stempniak at 6:21 and Glencross at 7:47 were both set up by Morrison and put the Flames ahead 2-1.
“Our power play produced tonight, which was very good,” said Flames coach Brent Sutter. “It was a hunch to put (Morrison), Glencross and Stempniak together to change the pace a little bit and it worked for us.”
Morrison was mostly a spectator during the Flames’ first five power plays seeing just 46 seconds of ice time. That gave him lots of time to observe from the bench, where he saw a couple things that he brought to the player’s attention during the second intermission.
“I was just watching the game on the bench and thought I saw something on the power play that could help,” Morrison said. “It’s funny how it goes sometimes. You get a chance and score a goal.”
Morrison had been a healthy scratch for five games before a case of the flu sidelined Glencross paved the way for his return to the line-up. He responded with two goals and two assists in the a 7-6 over Carolina on Tuesday.
Sutter kept Morrison in the line-up and it paid off–not just on the ice, but having him in the dressing room between periods.
“He took the pen and actually showed us how it’s done and then he goes out there and gets a couple helpers. We call him Reggie Dunlop now. That’s his new nickname,” said Jokinen, in reference to the player-coach played by actor Paul Newman in the hockey film Slap Shot.
Morrison shrugged off the post-game attention.
“There might have been a little drawing on the board,” Morrison said. “After watching early power plays falter, I said they needed to work the puck down low. They’re really aggressive on the half-way guy, so I figured if we could get the puck down low, we could make something happen.”
Calgary (13-13-2) is 5-1-1 in its last seven games and playing its best hockey of the season. With the victory, the Flames passed the Avalanche in the Northwest Division standings.
Matt Duchene and Galiardi scored for the Avalanche (13-14-1), who are winless in their last seven road games (0-6-1) after chalking up a franchise-record six consecutive victories away from home to start the year.
“We talked about it going into the third that we have to stay out of the box, if you give them too many chances on the power play, it’s eventually going to go against you,” said Colorado goaltender J.S. Giguere. “The guys did a good job for the most part on the PK, but you can’t give a team too many chances like that.”
Colorado is right back in action Friday night in Edmonton, where they’ll wrap up their short three-game trek through Western Canada, which began with a 6-0 loss to Vancouver on Tuesday night.
“We turned the puck over too much, you can’t generate offence when you’re turning the puck over as much as we were tonight,” said Avalanche coach Joe Sacco.
Atoning for his costly penalty earlier in the period, Galiardi got the Avalanche back even at 2-2 at 9:58 of the third.
Jokinen scored the game-winner at 15:10 neatly finished a pretty three-way passing play that started with Glencross and ended with Jarome Iginla’s cross-ice feed. Jokinen took the Flames captain’s [ass and fired inside the near goal post before Giguere could get all the way across.
“We just had to stick with it and break our opposition,” Stempniak said. “It was huge to get those two goals on the power play as then we had something to build on.”
Miikka Kiprusoff made 16 saves in the win, while Giguere stopped 32 shots in defeat.
The game was scoreless for the first 35 minutes before Duchene’s 10th goal opened the scoring.
Notes: The return of Glencross (flu) bumped rookie C Roman Horak to the press box. Glencross rejoined a line with Iginla and Jokinen. Morrison, who had four points in that spot Tuesday night, moved to centre between Alex Tanguay and Rene Bourque. … Colorado linemates Chuck Kobasew and Jay McClement both played in career game No. 500. … The Avalanche were without D Ryan Wilson (head) and C Kevin Porter, who began serving his four-game suspension for a knee-on-knee hit on Vancouver’s David Booth. … Calgary won for just the second time when trailing a game after two periods (2-10-0).