SUN Hockey Pool

Flames prevent slide

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

After a lacklustre weekend road trip, the Calgary Flames were looking forward to a home date with a division rival to get back on track and above .500.

Refusing to dwell on losses to the L.A. Kings and Anaheim Ducks -- despite the swarming media's best effort -- head coach Jim Playfair repeatedly steered his answers toward last night's contest against the Colorado Avalanche, who held a two-point advantage over the Flames while clinging to eighth spot in the Western Conference heading in.

Apparently, his players had that same single-mindedness.

The result was a convincing 5-2 win at the Saddledome over the Avs courtesy of three powerplay goals.

"Having a bad road trip like that, the importance of this game was huge," said Jarome Iginla, who opened the scoring with his 12th of the season late in the first period. "We all knew that."

The Flames' captain was a thorn in the opposing players' sides from his first shift onward and could have netted a couple before finally cracking Jose Theodore by deflecting Dion Phaneuf's point shot past the Avs goaltender with five minutes to go before the buzzer.

It's not often you get to see the consummate sniper parked in front for the tip drill but the Flames did everything they could to put some spark into their much-maligned powerplay.

Daymond Langkow, the guy usually seen tipping pucks from the point, appreciated Iginla's effort.

"I think he's probably more of a shooter," said Langkow. "He'll try to find room to shoot.

"But if not, the way that play worked out ... good hard low shot and nice tip by Iggy."

Then the Avalanche watched helplessly as its flimsy grip on the final playoff spot was snowed under. The Flames scored two more with the man-advantage during a double dip thanks to simultaneous Colorado penalties just minutes into the middle frame.

Enjoying the 5-on-3 for all of 18 seconds, Phaneuf collected an Alex Tanguay pass and ripped a shot past Theodore.

Matthew Lombardi tallied with 18 ticks remaining in Colorado's second infraction and, suddenly, the Flames' powerplay looked powerful.

All because they mixed up their efforts, said Iginla.

"Tonight, we did better things. We moved it. We were a little more patient in certain areas. We got ourselves into different positions. We were jamming the net, which opened up point shots," he said. "All the way around, we were better than we have been lately."

The Flames had the Avalanche defenders on their heels, unsure where the shot would come from. That's why three goals -- including Roman Hamrlik's second of the year just as another Avs penalty expired -- resulted directly from blueliners' shots.

"It didn't matter who was out there, guys moved it around nicely. We kept it simple," said Langkow.

Tanguay, facing his former mates for the first time since joining the Flames in a draft-day trade, scored in the third after Paul Stastny ruined Miikka Kiprusoff's perfect night.

Rookie Wojtek Wolski also added a meaningless marker at 15:26 of the third.


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