CALGARY – With four goals in back-to-back road wins, it’s safe to say Daniel Winnik’s short time in an Anaheim Ducks uniform has gone extremely well.
Winnik’s second goal of the night 4:02 into the third period broke a 3-3 tie Monday night as Anaheim went on to a 5-4 victory over the Calgary Flames, who have opened up the season with consecutive home losses.
The culprit on the play, 150 feet from where the goal was scored, was Calgary centre Alex Tanguay. His pass into the slot was picked off by Andrew Cogliano, who promptly turned and led a rush up ice that was eventually finished off by Winnik.
Signed as a free agent last summer, Winnik has found instant chemistry playing right wing on a line with Saku Koivu and Cogliano.
“We were put together that first Sunday at camp. We’ve talked a lot and that helps, finding out each other’s tendencies on certain plays,” said Winnik.
The 27-year-old finds himself tied for the league lead with Chicago’s Marian Hossa for most goals in the very young NHL season and just seven goals off his career high.
“He’ll pull away,” said Winnick with a laugh.
Ryan Getzlaf added his second goal of the night at 11:15 to make it 5-3, and, although the Flames got back to within one on Lee Stempniak’s breakaway goal three minutes later, Calgary was unable to get it back to even like they did earlier in the night when they battled back from an early 3-0 hole.
“It might have been exciting for the fans but it certainly was an ugly game as far as coaches look at it,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “There was a tremendous amount of mistakes. You get a 3-0 lead, you’ve got to shut the door and not allow a team back in but we did.”
Koivu had the other goal for Anaheim (2-0-0). The Ducks are off until they play host to Vancouver in their home opener Friday.
Curtis Glencross, with two goals, and Tanguay also scored for Calgary (0-2-0). The Flames also have the Canucks as their next opponent. That game goes Wednesday as the Flames hit the road for the first time.
“That’s not the way that we wanted to start, that’s for sure,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley.
The Flames’ first-year coach empathizes with the fans, who after the long lockout were excited about a schedule that saw Calgary play five of its first six games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“I’ve been in many great buildings and from the bench, to see all those red jerseys, that sea of red. There’s nothing more we wanted to do than give them a win and obviously, we want wins for us too because we know 48 games will go quick and you can’t leave any points on the table,” Hartley said.
“We’ve played hard enough to win both games but we didn’t play well enough to win both games.”
Fans were still making their way to the seats when Anaheim opened the scoring at 1:06 on a nifty deflection by Getzlaf of Toni Lydman’s point shot.
Koivu flicked in Cogliano’s centring pass at 7:23 to make it 2-0, and three minutes later Winnik’s shot deflected off Wideman and behind Miikka Kiprusoff.
With the announced sellout crowd of 19,289 sitting silent in disbelief, the Flames got a big power-play goal from Glencross at 16:15 as he deflected in a point shot from newcomer Dennis Wideman.
Tanguay cut the deficit to 3-2 with 26 seconds left in the period and the Flames pulled even 1:13 into the second on another Glencross deflection on a power play, this time off a Mike Cammalleri shot.
With that, the crowd was suddenly back into it again with the first “Go Flames Go” chant breaking out shortly after.
Calgary outshot the Ducks 14-3 in the second and could have taken the lead if not for some sharp saves from Hiller, his best being a pad save off Stempniak on a breakaway that would have put Calgary in front.
“We’re getting a lot of chances and for us, it seems like scoring goals isn’t the issue right now. The major issue now is keeping pucks out,” Stempniak said. “We’ll shore things up. It will be tough winning in Vancouver, they have an offensive team, but we’ve got to get back to the basics of playing defensive hockey in our own end and being committed to that and then the goals will come.”
Hiller finished the game with 21 saves, while Kiprusoff stopped 19 shots.
“Tomorrow, we’ve got to come to work, do some video, get on the ice, have a quick practice, and get to Vancouver and our mindset has to be we can’t worry about these last two games, we’ve got to go out and win the next game,” said Glencross
Notes: The appointment for Flames centre Roman Cervenka (blood clots) to see a specialist in Phoenix about his condition was postponed to Tuesday … Eight of Winnik’s 41 career goals have come against the Flames… Calgary made two line-up changes, inserting centre Blair Jones and defenceman T.J. Brodie in place of left-winger Steve Begin and defenceman Derek Smith. Jones played in his 100th NHL game … Anaheim welcomed back defenceman Cam Fowler after he missed Saturday’s opener with the flu … The Flames have eight more sets of back-to-back games … Anaheim right-winger Teemu Selanne is tied with Phil Esposito for third all-time with 249 career power-play goals.