SUN Hockey Pool

Blindsided again

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

The only thing worse than the officiating by Brad Watson and Michael (Don't call me Mick no mo') McGeough last night was the Flames' first period.

And in the end, that's what cost the Flames two crucial divisional points.

"We're not going to agree with all the calls ... and we didn't," said ever-diplomatic captain Jarome Iginla, who listened to the Saddledome crowd whip itself into a frenzy while the Flames were handed 10 minors.

"But that's the way it goes some nights. There were too many that we deserved."

Make no mistake, as Jim Playfair bluntly stated after the game, the Flames didn't deserve to win after coughing up an early 2-0 deficit.

However, despite staving off nine of the 10 powerplays often gifted to the Canucks, the Flames somehow stayed in the game by throwing 13 shots at Roberto Luongo in the third, to no avail.

Adding a whole new element to the Rocky Mountain Matchup last summer when he arrived via trade, Luongo gave the Canucks what they so sorely lacked with Dan Cloutier -- a 'keeper capable of winning games by himself. He did that with one flick of the wrist last night, preserving the win with a doozy of a glove stop on Byron Ritchie.

"Unbelievable," said game-winning goal scorer Alexandre Burrows of a late third-period snare that likely kept Ritchie up all night thinking of the open net he appeared to have after Kristian Huselius set him up alone beside the net.

"Everybody thought it was a guaranteed goal -- we saw the open net from the bench. That's the kind of save we need, especially in a game on the road against a tough team."

While Playfair suggested Ritchie "missed a great scoring chance to tie the game," most others saw it as highway robbery.

"He has made the difference in a lot of games," said captain Markus Naslund.

"I couldn't say I knew a whole lot about him before we got him but he's certainly someone you build a franchise around. He's helped us win some games we should have won."

Was this one of them?

"Well, we'll take the win," smiled Naslund.

A curious response as neither team felt it deserved the two points.

Enter the officials.

The most curious of all calls against Calgary came late in the middle frame after Matt Lombardi notched his second of the night to make it a one-goal game. Budding star/pest Kevin Bieksa slashed one of the Flames during the goal celebration, drawing the ire of Andrew Ference who immediately engaged the much-bigger blueliner in a fight. Ference grabbed a double-minor for instigating (the extra two for doing so with a visor) as part of a 19-minute penalty package that had the fans seething.

"It was a bad penalty in the sense that we were going to go on the powerplay and then suddenly we were killing a penalty," said Playfair.

"When you play 30 minutes on special teams it's a tough way to play."

So is spotting the visitors two goals 12 minutes in.

"We were sloppy in the first period and that's why we lost," said Huselius.

"It was too much."

Throw in a stud goalie and two duds in stripes and their fate was sealed.


Videos

Photos