SUN Hockey Pool

Bucking the trend

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

Sole possession of first place and that enigma finally solved.

Not only did the Calgary Flames put a small bit of space between themselves and the Vancouver Canucks with last night's 4-3 victory at the Saddledome but they also exacted a measure of revenge.

Since the calendar flipped to November, the Flames have lost only twice at home, a span that's now reached 22 games.

Both of those defeats were at the hands of their Northwest Division rivals from the West Coast, with whom they're battling for top spot.

Snapping that trend, as well as a four-game losing streak to the Canucks, puts the Flames (29-17-6) two points up on Vancouver and Minnesota.

"It was a battle out there and finally we found a way to beat Vancouver. It was huge for us," said Flames forward Kristian Huselius, who ran his point-scoring streak to 12 games.

Huselius will be credited with the game winner but it was Byron Ritchie's third-period tally that broke the deadlock and earned an eighth straight home victory.

The feisty forward deflected a Mark Giordano point shot to complete a comeback that delighted the 'Dome faithful.

It was a fitting conclusion, since the Flames held the edge in play all game.

Had it not been for Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, the score could have gotten ugly in a big way.

"We got exactly what we deserved," said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. "We talked before the game about being disciplined and took eight stick penalties.

"If it weren't for Louie, it would have been a totally lopsided affair."

Thanks to absolute brilliance by Luongo, the Canucks not only held strong in the early going but were actually ahead by a pair thanks to first-period goals by Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

But the netminder couldn't hold his thumb in the damn all night.

After setting up Daymond Langkow during a five-on-three powerplay to put the hosts on the board, Alex Tanguay drew Calgary even by finishing off a two-on-one with Jarome Iginla.

Iginla, who everyone expected to shoot while going down his off-wing, fed a pass across to Tanguay.

"I was ready. I know he's got a great shot. I think for the defender it's a surprise as much as it is for me," Tanguay said. "I was excited to see that puck coming across and I just tried to settle it down on my stick."

The play was a well-deserved success for the red-hot Tanguay, who has eight points in four games, according to head coach Jim Playfair.

"I thought Alex Tanguay was very prepared to make a big impact in the game tonight. I think he shows you why the bigger the game the better he plays and I thought he did a good job for us tonight," Playfair said.

Taylor Pyatt's tally with Luongo pulled made it a one-goal game.

Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff displayed some brilliance in the goaltending duel, coming up with huge saves after his side took the lead.

He had 25 saves.

Luongo finished the night with 38 saves in the losing cause for Vancouver (29-20-4).

The Flames return to action Tuesday to face the Chicago Blackhawks.


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