SUN Hockey Pool

Dogs roll over for Flames

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

So many elements the Calgary Flames were looking for came into focus.

The powerplay clicked last night. In triplicate.

A shorthanded was scored, too and the Phoenix Coyotes were handily dispatched in a 6-1 victory at the Saddledome.

So the ship's righted and back on course?

Well, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

A win -- any kind of win -- was as much of a necessity for the Flames as you can have in the opening month.

And they came through with a textbook model, holding a decided edge in play pretty much from start to finish, blanking the Coyotes powerplay and limiting shots against.

All those parts of their game the Flames had been working on during the mini-break which followed their disappointing road trip.

"I think we realized it was a must-win for us. We came out battling," said forward Marcus Nilson. "The powerplay started us off in the first period, we got the lead -- that's what we wanted -- and we kept going after that.

"It all comes down to that mentality: We have to work our (butts) off. It makes everything else easier, the powerplay and the penalty killing, when you're working really hard. I think we're starting to realize that."

A breakout game? Maybe. Certainly the year's high in goals and doubling their season total for powerplay tallies can give that impression.

Of bigger importance for a Flames team that now boasts a 3-4-1 record, is last night's triumph over the Coyote Uglies -- a team dwelling in the Western Conference cellar and ahead of only the imploding Phildalphia Flyers in the league standings -- becomes a step in the right direction.

The onus is now on the Flames to make last night's victory the starting point of a winning streak. They'll hit home ice Saturday against the Nashville Predators, looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

"There's more of an up-tempo team coming in and we've got to be ready to play that much better," said Flames head coach Jim Playfair. "One thing that sunk in was the fact that we're responsible for how we play and we weren't very good in the four games we played on the road. We found ways to lose."

For the night, though, the Flames were able to bask in a workmanlike victory before the sold-out gathering of 19,289 at the Saddledome.

On display for all to see were the aspects harped about over the last few days.

They won the first shift, taking possession right from the drop of the puck and tilting the ice towards the opposition's net.

And it led to goals.

Chuck Kobasew, Kristian Huselius and Roman Hamrlik all scored with the man-advantage, while Tony Amonte tallied shorthanded by finishing a breakaway chance he created by causing a turnover and Jarome Iginla and Nilson lit the lamp during five-on-five play.

Owen Nolan replied for the Coyotes.


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