Flames snowed under

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

DENVER -- Another big test, another dismal effort. And another crushing loss.

A season-opening road trip on which the Flames embarked with the highest of expectations officially became a journey to supreme depths as they were yet again thumped, this time 7-3 by the Colorado Avalanche last night.

With a chance to at least salvage their disappointing four-game swing with a .500 record, the Flames were all-out humiliated by the Avalanche who celebrated their home opener before 18,007 that braved the snow to make it to the Pepsi Center.

"We're being totally dominated in our own end," said Flames coach Darryl Sutter. "Hopefully it's good for our team to get dominated by two teams that are clearly better than us on back-to-back nights because it's clearly evident that our top players, our leadership group, have to take charge of the performances of the group."

The Flames did all the same things wrong last night they've done on a regular basis this young season to ensure a joyous night in the Mile High City.

They were especially stellar at giving the opposition powerplay a chance to work, which it did again and again and again and again.

"The best teams are the teams that aren't going to give up many scoring chances and many goals, it doesn't matter what the rules are," said Sutter. "And it's evident that it's trickled into our penalty killing, also, where some of our skilled players think it's all right to trade chances. But that's not right because the other team has more goal scorers than ours.

"We're scoring enough goals. You score three you should win games. It's really simple. I've got a sore throat from saying that all night."

Only four minutes into the game, and seemingly with the sounds from the pre-game ceremonies still reverberating, Byron Ritchie went to the sin bin for hooking.

Wojtek Wolski cruised unimpeded to the side of the net and easily finished off a pretty three-way passing play from John-Michael Liles and Marek Svatos.

It was the first career NHL goal for Wolski, Colorado's first pick (24th overall) in the 2004 draft.

It was the first of four powerplay goals for the Avs on the night. Calgary, the worst penalty-killing team in the league so far, has now allowed a dozen man-advantage markers already this season.

However, the Flames had a lot more problems than just their special teams last night.

Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff was sub-par between the pipes again, a situation highlighted by a Avs' tally that came late in the first period.

That's when Brett McLean drove down the left wing and circled the net before sending the puck to the front of the cage and banking it into the cage off Kiprusoff's stick as the netminder went down.

Seeing as the Flames have been dismal in the first period in their previous losses, a two-goal deficit after 20 minutes could have actually been seen by the Flames as a game still within reach.

Any such thoughts were pretty much put to rest early and often in the second frame.

Marek Svatos scored twice in the second period and then Antti Laaksonen made it a five-goal edge with a powerplay tally.

Despite the shellacking, Flames captain Jarome Iginla said the team has to keep their heads up.

"We'll battle through this together and turn this around," said Iginla.

"You can see that's not as good as we can play or the type of game we want to play. We're going to work to improve it. It's as simple as that."

Calgary now returns home for the much anticipated banner raising Thursday when Dallas comes to the Saddledome, the first clash in a four-game homestand Alberta.


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