Flames on road to nowhere

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Go ahead, tell the Calgary Flames all NHL rinks are the same.

Point out all 30 arenas are no different, measuring 200-ft. by 85-ft. and covered in ice.

They may not believe you.

Not with the way their fortunes remain away from the Stampede City.

For some reason, if the playing surface doesn't have a big, red Flaming C in the middle and the roof doesn't bow down towards the ground, they can't seem to buy a victory.

Despite the confidence from having won 10 straight clashes at the Saddledome, the Flames once again continued their road woes last night, dropping a 3-1 tilt to the Vancouver Canucks.

The Flames' last road victory came Nov. 11, coincidentally in Vancouver, but since have gone 0-4-1.

They still have a meagre three victories through 14 road games.

It's hardly the way the club, now 15-11-3, hoped to begin an all-important six-game road swing that won't end until just before Christmas Eve.

After a scoreless opening period, Calgary broke the deadlock on a great Matthew Lombardi play.

After tracking down a long and high clearing attempt from Jeff Friesen along the side boards just inside the Vancouver blueline, Lombardi cut to the net and braced for the check courtesy of Vancouver captain Markus Naslund -- but the check never came.

Instead, the shifty Flames centre cut across the crease untouched and deked out Roberto Luongo before sliding the puck just inside the post.

The assist is Friesen's second point of the season and first since the Oct. 7 home- opener.

But the Canucks tied the game thanks to Naslund's beautiful pass.

Set up beside the net, Naslund spotted Mattias Ohlund pinching in from the point and laid a perfect cross-crease feed that the defenceman easily redirected past Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff and into the far side.

By the end of the middle period, the hosts took the lead by capitalizing on an odd-man rush created by the Flames.

Jamie Lundmark, on a two-on-one, sent a slapper high and wide, and the bounding puck created a break the other way for the Sedin twins.

Daniel set up Henrik with a perfect feed on the ensuing rush for his first goal in more than a month.

Not yet out of it, the Flames somehow stayed in the game through the early going of the third period with some stellar penalty killing, snuffing a five-on-three chance that lasted 92 seconds, with both Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr in the sin bin.

Add the fact veteran defenceman Roman Hamrlik left the game midway through the first period with a groin injury and didn't return, and the shorthanded performance was commendable.

But noted Flames killer Brendan Morrison provided the much-needed insurance soon after Calgary's penalty killers did a masterful job.

Rushing down the ice with Matt Cooke, Morrison one-timed the cross-ice feed for just his eighth goal of the season.

The road swing continues tomorrow night in Phoenix, against the Pacific Division cellar-dwelling Coyotes.


Videos

Photos