SUN Hockey Pool

Hometown headache

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

It had all the makings of a perfect homecoming for Edmonton boys Dion Phaneuf and Steve Reinprecht.

Not only were they home for the holidays, they came bearing gifts.

With the score tied 2-2, the transplanted locals scored on the first two shots of the second period, chasing Mike Morrison, beating Jussi Markkanen and staking their Calgary Flames to a 4-2 lead.

Then three straight Edmonton goals, capped by Fernando Pisani's back-breaking winner at 19:15 of the third, sent the storyline crashing down around them.

"It was exciting, personally, to play your first pro game in your home city," said Phaneuf, who was a physical force all game long in a third-star effort. "It was a great experience, but the outcome wasn't what I wanted, that's for sure.

"We have to be better for a full 60 minutes, to a man. That was an unacceptable effort tonight. We made too many mistakes and when you make mistakes against a good team like this, you get hurt. It wasn't the effort that we needed - we have to get a lot better for Wednesday night."

Reinprecht has been here many times before, but seconded all of Phaneuf's post-game emotions. Yes, it was nice to score one in your home city, but to let two points slip away like that is inexcusable.

"We didn't respond; we didn't come out hard in the third, and they took it to us," he said. "With a minute left we have to be able to be better in our own end."

Edmonton-born Andrew Ference, who assisted on Phaneuf's goal, said the Flames practically gave away the game.

"We played sloppy, we turned the puck over a lot, I don't know if that's (not matching Edmonton's intensity) or them just taking advantage of another team's mistakes."

Probably a little of both, and it stung like heck for a Flames team that had only lost in regulation twice in their last 20 games.

"To be up two goals, to be up a goal with five minutes and lose in regulation, it's a tough loss," said captain Jarome Iginla. "We normally win a lot of battles along the wall in tough situations, but late in the game tonight we didn't."

But they did enough to stake themselves a 4-2 lead, and that should normally be enough.

"When you score four goals, it doesn't matter where you are, you should win the game," said head coach Darryl Sutter, philosophical in defeat.

"Usually Kipper is really sharp in goal and he wasn't sharp tonight. There were two or three goals that barely went in, that's how it goes."


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