Flames bounce back

Anaheim Ducks Todd Marchant, left, takes a shot Calgary Flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff during third...

Anaheim Ducks Todd Marchant, left, takes a shot Calgary Flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff during third period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Friday, Jan. 19, 2007. The Flames beat the Ducks 3-2.(CP PHOTO/Jeff McIntosh)

ERIC FRANCIS

, Last Updated: 4:51 PM ET

The transformation, quite frankly, was scary.

Listless and uninspired two nights earlier in Dallas, the Calgary Flames rebounded last night with the sort of heart, emotion and grit that has been their trademark at home all season.

Give 'em credit for turning things around on a dime.

After all, with a tough date in Edmonton tonight, it wasn't inconceivable the Flames could've gone into the all-star break with four straight losses.

Instead, just as they did the last time Anaheim came to town, they righted the ship by protecting an early 3-0 lead for a 3-2 win in a game that demonstrated just how much these two teams dislike one another.

Turning what looked like a rout into an entertaining finish, the two squads exchanged big hits throughout the evening, did plenty of shoving and jawing after the whistle and staged a good old-fashioned dust-up between two legit heavyweights, Eric Godard and George Parros.

It was a playoff atmosphere, indeed, stemming largely from last year's seven-game playoff war.

"At one point, I think they tried to intimidate us and that seemed to spark our emotions," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, whose club leads the league in fighting majors.

"There was some of that cheap stuff going on -- pushing behind the legs and that kind of thing. If that's the way they want to play, so be it. We're not afraid to come into this building and play that way."

The tipping point came midway into the night, just after Stephane Yelle calmly scored a beauty that would be the eventual game-winner.

Corey Perry shoved Rhett Warrener into Miikka Kiprusoff and both Flames came back swinging.

This, after Andrew Ference was earlier rammed into Kiprusoff.

A large scrum followed with plenty of heated words and facewashes that soon gave rise to Anaheim's comeback attempt.

"That's their game -- they have defencemen who love to do that," said Scott Niedermayer, who scored both Ducks goals despite bowing out of the all-star game earlier in the day with a stress fracture in his foot.

"For us, it's just a good sign we're alive and that there's a heart in there and it's beating. Obviously, there are a few run-ins from the playoffs when you play a team like that. That's the way they play."

At home anyway.

"Maybe it dates from last year," said Yelle, playing with tremendous confidence of late. "For us, we want to play hard and be hard to play against. When we're emotional like that, it usually turns out pretty good for us."

The same could be true tonight when an always-emotional tilt against Edmonton will be broadcast on CBC. As if there wasn't enough on the line in a tight division to put both sides on edge, the Oilers called up minor-league menace Zack Stortini yesterday. His simple assignment tonight: To fight Godard as he did in the pre-season and in the AHL.

With two wins in their last 11 games, the previously unstoppable Ducks are showing how much they miss netminder J-S Giguere and defenceman Chris Pronger.

Despite the loss of Jarome Iginla two weeks back, the Flames appear to be responding in radically different fashion, winning five of seven.

And they've done it the way they used to -- with hard work and feistiness.

They'd be wise to pack up that emotion and take it on the road for their next three games.

Otherwise, they'll be the lame Ducks.


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