Dogged determination

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

It was only a 10-minute span, one-sixth of the night's action.

Yet, it was more than enough time for the Phoenix Coyotes to inflict all the damage they needed on the Calgary Flames.

"You mean the 10 minutes we didn't show up?" stated Flames head coach of the spell to start the second period. "They took advantage of it."

Well, there was more than just that 10-minute span in which the Flames guilty of resting on their laurels in last night's 3-1 defeat to the Coyotes.

For example, we have the majority of the first period. There was also the second half of the second period.

Pretty much all but the final 20 minutes, when a comeback bid in the hopes of erasing a three-goal deficit came up well short in front of a 'Dome sellout crowd of 19,289.

The scoresheet will say the game boiled down to the first half of the second frame, but the Flames were essentially done and dusted -- in keeping with the team of the Western Night promotion -- from the drop of the puck.

"I don't think we played well enough right from the start," said defenceman Cory Sarich. "Not capitalizing in the second and getting some rough breaks -- posts -- all adds up, but we definitely needed to work harder if we wanted to win that game.

"It was more us than anything. I don't know if they did so much, we just weren't at our best. They kept it simple once they got the lead and played some tight defence, which you've got to give them credit for, but just a little lack of jump on our side was the biggest factor on our side."

The Flames (22-15-7) may have been riding high thanks to a five-game winning streak, but they certainly have no excuse for looking past the Coyotes.

Sure, the Desert Dogs were pegged by many around the league to be cellar dwellers, but they arrived in Calgary one of the league's hottest teams. They left looking good, too, having won five straight to pull closer to a playoff spot with a 22-18-1 record.

Sure, the Coyotes deserve some credit for spoiling the Flames fun --and handing them only their second regulation-time defeat since the start of December -- but the hosts were too busy looking at themselves in the mirror to offer kudos the other way.

"We didn't do anything we wanted to do," said centre Craig Conroy. "We did everything the opposite of what we wanted to do. We talked about getting a quick start, didn't do it. We talked about staying out of the box, didn't do it.

"Things like that ended up catching up to us."

Daniel Winnik, Joel Perrault and Keith Yandle scored between the first intermission and the midway point of the second. Only Alex Tanguay's late powerplay goal -- a deflected Robyn Regehr point shot -- spoiled the night for Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who stopped 30 shots.

Keenan's disappointed reached its apex in the second period, when many of his top players watched the third and fourth lines hit the ice shift after shift.

"Well, I think that was fairly obvious when they were all benched for about 10 minutes," Keenan said. "You have an expectation and it's built upon their results and their effort and come to believe they'll give the effort you respect.

"They didn't do that. It was an atypical response for this group, certainly in terms of how they've grown in the last 90 days. It's another lesson learned."

Even when his team was due a letdown game.


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