Flames end losing skid

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

The day before, Jim Playfair was espousing all that was right with his team.

Last night, his Calgary Flames charges gave him fuel for his argument amidst a 4-1 drubbing of the Atlanta Thrashers.

On the heels of the Flames' thumping on the weekend at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings -- and the resulting scrutiny that came Monday -- Playfair listed some of the positives of late for his team that had dropped four straight games.

High on his list was the special teams, a penalty kill above 90% in the month and a powerplay that had clicked at 26% over the previous half-dozen outings.

Too bad for him his squad doesn't face the Thrashers more often.

Ignited by a trio of first-period powerplay goals, the Flames destroyed the Southeast Division leaders before a sellout crowd of 19,289 at the Saddledome.

Calgary again moved into top spot in the Northwest Division standings, one point ahead of both Vancouver and Minnesota, with a 30-19-8 record.

Although the Thrashers remain solid in the Eastern Conference playoff picture with a 30-21-9 record, that success has nothing to do with their penalty killing.

They sit last in the league when it comes to playing shorthanded, and the Flames only needed three minutes to take advantage of that weakness.

On his team's first man-advantage opportunity, Dion Phaneuf unloaded a slapshot from the point that Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen figured was going to his blocker. But Daymond Langkow redirected all the way to the other side of the cage to open the scoring with his team's first shot on goal.

Calgary's power players were at it again a little more than three minutes later with Jarome Iginla doing the honours and breaking out of his mini-slump.

Parked in the slot while his linemates were controlling the puck, Iginla took the feed from Craig Conroy and -- with a pair of Thrashers penalty killers closing in around him -- immediately slapped a shot into the cage.

The trifecta was complete before the period was out when Langkow added his second powerplay goal of the game.

With Kristian Huselius holding the puck for what seemed like an eternity, Langkow moved to the slot and readied for the pass.

The puck came and Langkow swept a quick wrister just inside the post.

It didn't come on the powerplay but Alex Tanguay got in on the scoring action just past the midway point of the game.

Sprung by Iginla following a turnover just outside the blueline, Tanguay zoomed down his off wing and ripped a short-side laser past Lehtonen.

Iginla's assist was his third point, marking the seventh game he's netted three or more points in a game.

Denis Hamel replied for Atlanta, taking advantage of a long rebound after Miikka Kiprusoff stopped Greg de Vries' long shot but couldn't contain the puck.

That blemish was a rare miscue for Kiprusoff, who bounced back from a sub-par performance Sunday.

The Flames play their next three games against division rivals Colorado Avalanche, beginning tomorrow night at the Saddledome.


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