SUN Hockey Pool

One slippery slope

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

DENVER -- The day before, the Calgary Flames worked diligently to improve their penalty killing.

From a percentage basis, they were much better than they had been of late.

Unfortunately, they pretty much forgot every other aspect of their game and dropped a 4-1 tilt last night to the Colorado Avalanche.

"It's disappointing, for sure, because they played with a lot more urgency than we did," said Flames head coach Mike Keenan.

"You have to give them credit, they came out and played hard for 60 minutes and had quite an edge on the powerplay side of things.

"They certainly played harder than we did."

As hard as it is to imagine, the score actually flattered the Flames considering how badly they were outplayed at the Pepsi Center en route to their third straight defeat.

And it came despite opening the scoring less than five minutes into the game on Jarome Iginla's 10th goal of the season, curiously enough while the team was enjoying its only powerplay of the night.

Maybe it was a way to show they would be better on the penalty kill, but the Flames put themselves in a dire position right from the drop of the puck, getting themselves shorthanded five times in the opening frame.

"We were outplayed and outworked," said Iginla.

"Look at the powerplays, I think they had six and we had one, and that's not refereeing.

"We have to draw more penalties, and that shows the work. We didn't work hard enough."

Calgary actually killed a five-on-three advantage early in the period that lasted 1:12, but you knew they would eventually pay the price.

They did when Andrew Brunette evened the count.

Parked at the side of the net when Joe Sakic sent a shot from the point, Brunette redirected the puck that was going wide past Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff. It was Colorado's 16th shot on goal in the period.

Thanks to some heroics by Kiprusoff, the Flames actually were still in the clash until the midway point, but Wojtek Wolski put Colorado ahead for good with a goal Kiprusoff would like to have another crack at.

Heading to the net as Milan Hejduk sent the puck in that direction, Wolski redirected it through Kiprusoff's legs.

"We weren't good at all. I was terrible. You look at the group, we weren't skating, didn't work hard enough," said Iginla.

"Kipper had to make some huge saves just to give us a chance at 2-1 going into the third period."

Kiprusoff continued to keep his team in the game, but couldn't do it forever, and any hopes for a comeback were erased 45 seconds into the final period when Paul Stastny scored his first of two on the night.

When the super sophomore, who is Colorado's leading point producer, added another just past the midway point of the final frame, it spelled the end of the game for Kiprusoff, mercifully pulled after stopping 30 shots.

He was replaced by rookie Matt Keetley, who saw his first NHL action.

"We had a chance to rectify the lapses we had in here the first time and we didn't respond to it," said Keenan.

"It's disappointing and I expected, quite frankly, our team would be a lot more passionate about the game tonight than they showed."

Calgary returns home to face the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night.


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