The pile of motivating factors for the Calgary Flames was as tall as the Stanley Cup.
And the Flames made good use of the fountain of inspiration to grab a clutch 3-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
"Yeah, it wasn't hard to get ready for this game," said goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who made 37 saves for the shutout.
Let us count the ways:
This was the Ducks, the squad that derailed Cal- gary's playoff hopes in the spring.
They arrived having just set a NHL record by recording at least one point in all 16 games to start the season and are setting the standard in the Western Conference this season.
Not to be overlooked is Calgary's need to continue a modest winning streak that is close to erasing the damage of a terrible opening month.
"That was the biggest game of the year," said Flames forward Chuck Kobasew. "And that's how we have to look at (tonight's game in Vancouver), it's a division rival. Those are two more points we need.
"To beat this team in regulation when they haven't lost yet is a huge accomplishment."
The Ducks may have dropped the Mighty from their name but they sure added it to their performance on the ice.
Led by superstar defencemen Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger -- the target of the boos all night -- and a wealth of talent up front, they arrived in the Stampede City on the heels of a 6-0 thrashing of the Canucks the night before.
That victory improved their record to a best-in-NHL-history 12-0-4, which beat a standard set by the 1984-85 Oilers.
Knowing what they were up against, the Flames, with a chance to reach the .500 mark this weekend, mustered everything they had in the early going to take advantage of a squad softened by their schedule -- losing an hour after playing the night before on the West Coast -- and maybe ready for a letdown.
Pushed by a playoff atmosphere thanks to a soldout Saddledome crowd of 19,289, the Flames stormed the Ducks in the early going and received their just reward with goals by Daymond Langkow and Tony Amonte scored 19 seconds apart.
"If we sit back and let them get into the game, they dictate the play," Kobasew stated. "We knew we had to play our game and push them right at the start."
Good thing, because the visitors soon after turned the tide. Proving their record and accolades this young season are warranted, the Ducks spent the rest of the game controlling the play and generating one scoring chance after another.
Calgary's saving grace was the stellar netminding from Kiprusoff, who earned his second shutout of the season.
"When you have somebody like Kipper behind you, he can make those saves and make it easy on you on defence," said defenceman Roman Hamrlik.
Kiprusoff, a catalyst to his team's three-game winning streak, just shrugged it off.
"Our best save was made by Andy Ference," he said, recalling his defenceman's denial of a Teemu Selanne offering.
"It was an empty net and he was diving. It was a nice stop with his toe. I think he used to play goal."
Ference said the onus was on him to eventually bail out the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.
"He saved my bacon so many times, I figured I owed him one," he said with a grin.
Matthew Lombardi added an empty-netter.