Flames play fame game

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

A gold watch really wouldn't have been the right gift.

So, the Calgary Flames ponied up for a present co-owner Harley Hotchkiss would truly relish.

One sleep removed from his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Hotchkiss received a token more meaningful than any bauble, last night's 3-0 Flames victory over the St. Louis Blues.

Hotchkiss, one of a group of Calgarians to purchase a share of the team from Nelson Skalbania when he moved the squad north from Atlanta back in 1980 and a key figure to solving the lockout of 2004-05, was lauded before the game for his inclusion as one of the game's builders.

He dropped the ceremonial puck and walked through his team's bench but didn't offer any words to pump up the charges.

That doesn't mean he wasn't thinking about it.

"When I was out there and walked by the bench, I didn't say it but thought, 'Boys, don't let me down tonight,' " he said with a smile that lit up the dressing room after. "You bet it's what I'd want."

What transpired wasn't exactly a masterpiece of an affair but the guest of honour did see his squad extend its winning streak to five games before a sellout crowd of 19,289 at the Saddledome.

The longest run since an eight-game spree last November leaves the Flames one game above the .500 mark (8-7-2) and moved them into eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

Having erased a dismal three-win opening month, the Flames have reason to be happy, even if the most recent victory wasn't an air-tight performance.

"It wasn't the most dominating game or the most impressive game but 3-0 is a good win," said defenceman Andrew Ference, who rounded out the goal scoring. "It's one of those things when a team starts on a roll like this, things just happen a little bit better.

"It was a good winning-streak win but I think we took a little step back as far as emotion and stuff."

There was plenty of passion in the building in the opening moments with Hotchkiss and long-time play-by-play voice Peter Maher -- awarded the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award by the Hall of Fame Monday -- receiving their due.

The energy increased early when Daymond Langkow opened the scoring by finishing a pretty three-way passing play with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay.

But until Kristian Huselius scored shorthanded early in the third period, his third goal in four games, the night didn't invoke images of Flames hockey.

Of course, there are some bright lights. Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 24 shots for his third shutout of the season, and Alex Tanguay put together his best outing of the campaign. In fact, Tanguay was robbed of a goal late in the first when Blues goalie Curtis Sanford reached back with his trapper for a spectacular stop.

It appeared the puck crossed the line in Sanford's glove but it wasn't conclusive for the video replay officials to overturn the call.

"I won't dwell over it," Tanguay said. "If I would have taken my time a bit, I could have shot away from his glove because I don't think he saw the puck, just threw his glove there. It's good we didn't need it at the end but I would have liked it, for sure."


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