SUN Hockey Pool

Mile-High effort nets victory

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

DENVER -- The previous Calgary Flames visit to the Mile High City had coach Mike Keenan questioning his team's passion.

No such problem this time around.

The Flames rode a wave of emotion -- ignited during a bit of a scuffle in the pre-game warm-up -- to build a four-goal lead and skated to a one-sided 5-2 win last night over the Colorado Avalanche.

How dominant were the Flames through the first two periods? Their four-goal lead was built with the shot clock reading 27-7 in their favour.

"That's an exclamation mark on the first 40 minutes, really," Keenan said. "We started the game with good intensity, and it showed throughout the game. We were playing with authority, taking the body and doing a lot of little things well.

"It's what we need to do on a consistent basis."

Before the contest even started, the blood pressure was rising at the Pepsi Center thanks to a run-in between the Flames' Dion Phaneuf and Avs enforcer Scott Parker. The pair bumped at the centre line and started jawing, which drew all the players.

Nothing came of it immediately, although Parker spent all his time on the ice chasing and delivering a trio of cheap shots on Phaneuf before finally being ejected when he cross-checked the Flames defenceman in the chest and fighting Eric Godard.

A little old-time hockey, sure, and the Flames weren't about to complain about finding another level on the emotional ladder.

"It definitely doesn't hurt," shrugged centre Daymond Langkow, who opened the scoring. "Everybody's getting in there and getting involved, and the blood gets going. I don't know if that's what made us play the way we did, but it definitely didn't hurt, for sure."

Through the first two periods, the Flames dominated the hosts before the sellout crowd of 18,007.

They were aggressive in sealing their defensive zone. They were aggressive on the forecheck. They were aggressive going to the net. And they made the most of chances.

"Work ethic. Guys were out there seeing how hard everybody's going and feeding off each other," said defenceman Cory Sarich, who set up a pair of goals, including the game winner. "It makes the game so much easier when you work that hard.

"To get yourself prepared mentally to go out and do that every night, that's the tough part of it," Sarich said. "That's one thing that has to get better. You can't have the ups and downs, and I think it's great we're going right out (today) and playing another game. Hopefully, we can just take some of this energy and challenge it into the next game."

The Flames (10-10-3) are in St. Louis today to face the Blues, hoping to play the same physical, hard-charging style.

"Our forwards were running over their defencemen, and all of a sudden they start throwing (away) pucks, and that starts giving us opportunities," Sarich said. "When you're banging their forwards, it slows them up, too. When you have to spend as much time in your end as they did in that first and second period, it's hard to recover."

Matthew Lombardi, Adrian Aucoin, Stephane Yelle and Craig Conroy also scored for the Flames, and Jarome Iginla netted a pair of assists.

The only disappointment for the visitors was the finish, with Joe Sakic and Brad Richardson scoring late.

"In the third, we took too many penalties," Langkow said. "But overall, that's the type of effort we need every night from every guy to win."

Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff finished the night with 21 saves, while Jose Theodore stopped 27 shots for a Colorado team which fell to 12-9-1 and lost on home ice for only the second time this season.

"The way we lost and the way we came out and played ... that's not acceptable, said Avs captain Sakic.

"Obviously, we were just hoping for an easy game and they came and handed it to us and embarrassed us in our own building."


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