The Saddledome became a time machine last night.
The Calgary Flames looked much more like the team that won the Northwest Division crown last spring and Tony Amonte appeared to be the long-haired version of himself that racked up a few 40-goal seasons in the 1990s.
"I could have thrown a wig on," joked the savvy veteran, who scored twice to lead the Flames past the Dallas Stars in a 3-1 victory last night.
"First game in a long time I was really on it. It felt good. You get a goal early, everything seems to click."
Amonte was a force in every aspect of the game.
He looked speedy, confident and aggressive in the offensive zone and made several key defensive plays when the team was struggling to stay ahead.
Kristian Huselius added the insurance marker into an empty net but Amonte had a couple of cracks at the hat-trick, only to watch his best attempt rattle off the post in the third period.
The horn blared and the fireballs went off in the rafters but Amonte wasn't fooled.
"Naw, I knew it didn't go in," he said with a laugh.
"I was still scrappin' to try to go get it. I kinda overskated it a little 'cause it popped straight back where it came from.
"That's just the way it goes. That's the spot I was trying to hit; unfortunately, I hit it and didn't put it inside the post."
Amonte wasn't alone in his effort.
The team strung together consecutive wins for the first time this season thanks to an up-tempo start, gritty work in the corners, a fight, a first-period goal and some great goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff.
"I think everybody looked at this like a playoff game for us," said Amonte.
"We needed the points bad. We haven't strung two wins together all season. Coming in against one of the better teams in the West in Dallas. It's a great measuring stick. If we're gonna get there, we've got to do it against the best teams.
"We had an all-around great effort tonight. We got it from everybody and that's the only way we can win."
But Amonte deserves a lot of credit for his inspired play -- admittedly his best game as a Flame.
"Tony's a very skilled guy," said sophomore defenceman Dion Phaneuf. "He's done a lot in the league, year after year. He's got over 400 goals in the league and that doesn't come by fluke.
"It was nice to see him pot a couple more tonight."
The Stars drew even in the second period when Antti Miettinen whipped the puck over Kiprusoff's shoulder on the powerplay but Amonte deflected Phaneuf's point shot past Turco 35 ticks later to restore the Flames' precious one-goal lead.
A determined Dallas squad poured on the pressure late in each period but each time, Kiprusoff was there to turn them away.
"That was probably as strong a team game as we played all year," said Flames head coach Jim Playfair.