Flames take a baby step

STEVE MACFARLANE, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

Every march starts with a small step.

The Calgary Flames took one last night with an ugly 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Saddledome.

But if they want their journey to end at the top of the Northwest Division by the time they finish this six-game homestand, their strides will have to find a little more rhythm.

It was a frantic finish with four goals -- two from each side -- coming in the last minute and a half.

And it took one of Kristian Huselius' two empty-netters to clinch victory.

The one in which the puck didn't even cross the red line.

Huselius was awarded a goal after being hauled down from behind on a breakaway with the netminder pulled for an extra attacker

"That's the new rules, I guess -- if you get a breakaway on an empty-netter (and) they drag you down," said Huselius. "I was just trying to skate and get closer and closer and then all of a sudden I was just laying there."

L.A.'s Craig Conroy and Lubomir Visnovsky scored 30 seconds apart in the final minute before Huselius got his second insurance goal with two seconds to play.

"We got a little bit sloppy there but we'll take the win for sure," said Huselius, who was happy to put one in for real the second time around.

"It hit Iggy's skate and Iggy just yelled, 'Shoot it!' "

The good news is the Flames' defensive play was much improved -- at least over the first 40 minutes. The return of Andrei Zyuzin helped but the team is still without leader Roman Hamrlik, whose absence seems to have affected the play of partner Dion Phaneuf.

Phaneuf, who scored his side's second goal, was rock-solid last night, playing big minutes in all situations and looking more comfortable than he has in a while.

Miikka Kiprusoff, aside from one error in judgement late in the first period, looked more like his old self, too.

The Flames were in complete control throughout the opening frame until a wacky play by Kiprusoff put a dent in what was shaping up to be a rout.

With Michael Cammalleri racing into the Flames zone to collect Brent Sopel's breakaway pass, Kiprusoff charged from his crease to try and stop it early. But instead of smothering the wobbly puck, the Finn leaped forward with stacked pads and kicked it away. Basically out of the play at that point, Kiprusoff stabbed at the bouncing rubber with his glove but the puck got back to Cammalleri at the side of the net. Cammalleri fed Visnovsky for the tap-in as a beleaguered Phaneuf tried to defend the goal.

The Flames got goals from Jarome Iginla and Phaneuf in the first and Daymond Langkow put Calgary up by two early in the second.

Alexander Frolov gave the Kings new life before Alex Tanguay capped a nice give-and-go with Chuck Kobasew with less than five minutes to play for the two-goal cushion.

But the Flames breathed a little too easy at that point.

"We wanted to provide the fans with some excitement and they got it," joked defenceman Robyn Regehr.

"What's disappointing for our team is we didn't come out in the third period and really take the game over."

It wasn't a pretty finish but Iginla was pleased with the victory.

"The offensive side was pretty," said Iginla, who didn't realize the winning goal was one of the empty-netters.

"You don't see that very often.

"It was a wild one. Fortunately, we found a way to win it. You've got to be able to win different styles of games.

"The Kings are pushing to get themselves back in a playoff spot. At this time of year, you're really bearing down. In the third period, they were coming full throttle."


Videos

Photos