Flames spoil Vancouver's holiday party

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- So much for the holiday spirit.

The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks faced off for the second time in four nights at GM Place yesterday and the rematch had more of a 'Grinch Who Stole Two Points' feel to it.

The visitors used a combination of big hits, big saves and timely powerplay goals to eke out their fourth win in as many tries against the Canucks this season, this time by a score of 2-1.

Robyn Regehr scored with a little more than 12 minutes remaining in regulation to give his team the half-season sweep and leapfrog the Canucks in the Northwest Division standings.

His blast from the point went high over Canucks goaltender Alex Auld to restore Calgary's 1-0 lead.

"It's just a bomb. I know he's got a hard shot but that was unbelievable," said Calgary's Kristian Huselius, who assisted on the winner and also scored the Flames' first goal. "If you find the top corner, it's tough to stop."

Down a goal heading into the third, the Canucks rallied to tie the game at one apiece 5:58 into the final period when Anson Carter capped off a nice passing play between the Sedin brothers.

Daniel Sedin found Carter's stick in front and the Canucks winger snapped the puck past Miikka Kiprusoff to the delight of the often quiet home crowd.

It was the only shot that beat Miikka Kiprusoff on the night. He was quietly spectacular in a bounce-back performance after allowing nine goals in his last two games.

The Flames picked up where they left off before their two-day Christmas break, grabbing a 1-0 lead 4:15 into the opening frame with Canucks defenceman Bryan Allen in the penalty box for a hook on Shean Donovan.

Huselius, continuing to demonstrate chemistry with linemate Daymond Langkow, took a feed from his centre just inside the Canucks blueline and netted his seventh of the season with a wrist shot that beat Auld far side.

Things opened up on both sides of the rink midway through the period as adrenalin got the best of the players.

Todd Bertuzzi had a partial breakaway broken up by Dion Phaneuf's stick as the crowd protested to the referees.

Bertuzzi had a chance at redemption when he slipped past both Flames defencemen and took two cracks at Kiprusoff. The Flames goaltender kept his left pad on the ice and Calgary took its one-goal lead into the first intermission.

"It was a couple of close ones," Kiprusoff said of the clean breaks. "I stopped those with my toe. It's a breakaway. I get pretty excited when I stop those."

The nasty tone that comes with four meetings before the season's halfway point began to boil over nine minutes in when Byron Ritchie challenged Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa to drop the mitts.

Ritchie took some abuse and seemed to set the tone for the rest of the period. Jarome Iginla and Jarkko Ruutu took double minors for roughing, while Chuck Kobasew and Bryan Allen earned a couple of minutes for the same infraction.

Defenceman Bryan Marchment knows Calgary needed to set the tone.

"That's the style of hockey we have to play night in and night out to be successful," he said.

"I think the games we have been successful, we've done that as a 20-man unit."

Kiprusoff finished with 16 saves. Auld made 21 saves for Vancouver.

The Flames return to Calgary tonight to face the Nashville Predators (7 p.m., 'Dome).

- - -

CALGARY FLAMES: 2

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: 1


Videos

Photos