SUN Hockey Pool

Money in the blank

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

The list of usual suspects is growing.

The name Jarome Iginla has been synonymous with scoring this season. Kristian Huselius, Daymond Langkow and Matthew Lombardi have also been regular contributors.

Lately, Byron Ritchie has been on a tear.

And last night during the Calgary Flames' 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild -- with Miikka Kiprusoff again earning the shutout -- Mark Giordano made his case to be added to the marquee with his fourth of the season and second goal in three games.

The rookie has supplanted Andrei Zyuzin as an everyday defenceman and isn't resting on his incredible accomplishments. He's now played 14 consecutive games for the Flames and has cracked the scoresheet in five of his last seven.

Pinching low from his spot on the blueline just seconds into a 5-on-3 advantage, Giordano took a perfect feed from Huselius and snapped it into the empty cage to give the Flames a 2-0 lead late in the second period.

"It was a great play by Juice," said Giordano.

"It was right on my stick, the goalie was down and out. I like those ones, those ones are pretty easy.

"It was a big one because it gave us a two-goal lead and we felt comfortable. We kept going in the third."

Langkow started the scoring by deflecting Robyn Regehr's shot from the point past Wild backup Niklas Backstrom.

It was his 16th goal of the season and eighth point in seven games but Langkow was just as impressed by the collective performance of the team in Iginla's absence.

Byron Ritchie added his fourth goal in his last three games -- his seventh of the season -- to pad the lead with a tally set up by shorthanded specialist Lombardi in the third period.

"We've had guys step up," said Langkow. "Obviously Byron Ritchie has been huge for us the last four, five games or so.

"You can't say enough about those guys. A guy like Jarome gets hurt ... for those guys to step in and play the way they've played has been key for us."

Things were quiet leading up to Langkow's tally but things quickly heated up.

On the ensuing faceoff at centre ice, heavyweights Eric Godard and Derek Boogaard dropped the gloves as the puck left the referee's hand.

It was a punchup destined to happen after the Flames called Godard up from their AHL affiliate in Omaha to keep the 6-ft. 7-in. monster from taking liberties as he did in the late stages of a 5-2 Calgary win in Minnesota last month.

Mission accomplished: Boogaard didn't even serve his major before heading to the dressing room for the evening.

"He did a tremendous job," said Langkow of Godard, who was sporting the All-Business Tie in the dressing room after the game.

"That definitely swung the momentum in our favour."

Kiprusoff was great, especially when the Flames were shorthanded, earning his 100th NHL victory and fifth shutout of the season with 26 saves.

The win is the Flames' fifth in a six-game homestand and third straight without their captain, if you include the half game Iginla missed after injuring his left knee against Florida.


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