SUN Hockey Pool

Flames hold off the Blues

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

Turns out the movie the Calgary Flames and their fans have seen many times can have a different ending.

And this time, the Flames were rewarded for outworking, outshooting, outchancing and outperforming the opposition.

Unlike many recent clashes, the Flames had it pay off for doing so many things right and last night at the Saddledome, earning a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues to snap their four-game losing skid.

"We've played some good games where it just hasn't worked out, we haven't got the bounces, so it's nice," said defenceman David Hale. "It feels really good to come out with a win."

As rough as it's been for the Flames since the end of October, they have deserved to win a few more games over the past few weeks. However, all too often performances like last night's -- they outshot the visiting Blues by a 37-22 count -- went for naught because of one ill-timed error or another.

Instead, the Flames netted a victory that probably should have been more one-sided before the sellout crowd of 19,289.

Not that it was easy for the club that still sits outside looking in for playoff spot with an 11-13-4 record.

Only 36 seconds into the clash, Blues forward Lee Stampniak opened the scoring with the first shot on goal, a lead that held for nearly half the game.

However, recently maligned goalie Miikka Kiprusoff slammed the door shut the rest of the way.

Marcus Nilson and Dustin Boyd scored in a one-sided second period that saw Calgary fire 20 shots on goal compared to the two St. Louis could muster.

In the end, Flames head coach Mike Keenan had plenty of reasons to be impressed with his squad.

"Responding to a quick setback properly," Keenan stated when asked what element of his team he was happiest about. "I think Miikka played exceptionally well in the first period to keep us in the game. We had a struggle with our poise after that initial setback to a certain extent.

"Then obviously the energy in the second period really created and ignited by (Mark) Smith, Boyd and (Eric) Godard, and then the rewards they got for their efforts, particularly Boyd taking the puck to the net just as Marcus did and getting a reward for their hard effort and hard work."

Funny, but for all the pucks the Flames sent towards the net, the goals were hardly things of beauty.

Nilson dove and lunged to poke home a loose puck after Blues netminder Hannu Toivonen couldn't corral a long shot.

Boyd sent a bank shot off the goaltender's rear-end from near the end boards to give the hosts the much-needed reward for a fantastic second period performance.

Nilson's goal was exactly the kind a struggling team needs to break out of a slump in terms of the all-important secondary scoring.

He paid a price for it, too, suffering a charley horse when he crashed into the net.

"I haven't been in for a while (due to a concussion), so was a little out of gas, but I saw (the loose puck) and since my huge my huge miss last game I really wanted to get it," Nilson said. "It felt good to get it. It didn't feel good afterwards but at least it's a goal."

Possibly lost in the triumph was Kiprusoff's play.

Though not nearly as busy as Toivonen, the netminder who was called out by Keenan after the team lost in overtime to Columbus on the weekend, made all the saves needed in a 21-stop performance.

"It's my job. I said before I had to be better, make key saves and give the team a chance to win," he said. "We didn't have the greatest start, but when the game went on we were stronger and stronger.I'm pretty happy with how I played, too."

Calgary's four-game homestand ends tomorrow when Pittsburgh sniper Sidney Crosby plays his first NHL game in the Saddledome.


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