Flames pooched by Cujo

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

You would expect a team coached by The Great One to focus on offence.

But it was the Phoenix Coyotes' defensive play that got the job done last night.

The Calgary Flames spent much of the first two periods on the attack but were kept off the scoreboard in a 2-0 loss at the Saddledome.

Mike Ricci made the team pay for its missed opportunities. Returning from a layoff that came courtesy of a broken nose, the veteran roofed the winning goal midway through the third period after the puck took a fortunate bounce off the glass behind Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff.

Fredrik Sjostrom's initial blast missed the net but Ricci was there to recover the loose puck and bury it top corner.

Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, no stranger to winning in Calgary, gave credit to his team's defensive play.

"Defensively, we've been pretty solid as a team all year. Our commitment to defence has been pretty strong and our goaltending has been pretty solid for seven games," said Gretzky.

"It was nice to get a break off the glass and get a big goal like that. It's a tough place to win in and it's a good win by our team."

Boyd Devereaux added an empty-netter with a little more than 30 seconds remaining to secure the victory despite being outshot and outchanced by their opponents.

Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph came up with big saves when the Flames managed to crack the defensive armour but many of the 25 shots were routine.

While the top line of Jarome Iginla, Daymond Langkow and Tony Amonte set up shop in the Phoenix zone and created a few chances even on the very first shift, they failed to score -- a theme that haunted the Flames throughout the night.

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter said his team's failure to capitalize on chances early in the game led to the disappointing result.

"The opportunities we missed in the first period cost us the hockey game," said Sutter. "You have to get a lead on them."

Amonte had a chance to bury a powerplay goal early but his wraparound attempt went untouched through Joseph's crease.

Seconds later, Iginla tipped a point shot wide.

Matthew Lombardi -- who left the game with a sprained ankle in the third period and will undergo precautionary X-rays -- Steven Reinprecht and Chuck Kobasew used their speed to break into the Coyotes end with no payoff.

Joseph's best save came in the second period when Langkow's centring pass found Shean Donovan alone in front.

Cujo propelled himself across the crease to deny Donovan's quick deflection.

But Calgary's best efforts often didn't reach their opponents' net, instead fizzling out with a sudden turnover or a stellar play by the Coyotes defence.

The Flames' captain was unsettled by the final result.

"We had some scoring chances but not nearly enough -- and not nearly enough hard shots," said Iginla.

"They blocked shots. A lot of d-men block shots. It's up to us -- the offensive side -- to get it around them and we didn't do that."

Donovan said his team should have been able to pull off a win at home.

"In the third period, we just weren't good enough. That was not a good enough effort from us," said the speedy winger.

"There's 20 minutes left in a home game that's 0-0 and we didn't play good enough in the end. You want to blame somebody but the blame's in here."


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