SUN Hockey Pool

Cujo mauled in debut

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Excitement quickly turned into disappointment for the Calgary Flames backup netminder.

Curtis Joseph was admittedly eager to get into NHL action for the first time this season as a horde of reporters flocked around him after the morning skate.

Declaring himself free of nerves but full of anticipation, the 40-year-old veteran couldn't wait to get the game started.

Heading into the first intermission down 2-0 to the Edmonton Oilers, he wanted a restart.

"I should have made a couple of big saves in the first to give us some momentum," said Joseph, whose Flames lost a lopsided 5-0 decision at Rexall Place.

"They got a couple of nice goals and I think from there, they got some momentum and turned up their game.

"I was hoping to have a real good first, but unfortunately that didn't happen."

The opening-period goals by Fernando Pisani and Dustin Penner were followed by three powerplay markers from Ales Hemsky, Steve Staios and Sam Gagner.

Shouldering some blame, Joseph said he would have liked to come up with some big saves in the first.

Problematic was the fact he would have had to do it on his own.

"We didn't give him any support, so he had too many difficult saves to make," said Flames head coach Mike Keenan, who deflected blame onto himself for his charges not being ready to play.

"We put him in a really bad position."

As a result, Joseph's 447th NHL victory that will tie Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk for fourth on the all-time wins list will have to wait a little longer.

Tempers were gradually ramped up as the score got more and more lopsided.

The Battle of Alberta that had already featured three fights really exploded 7:02 into the third period when Eric Godard punched three different Oilers after shoving goaltender Mathieu Garon in the crease.

Shots to Joni Pitkanen, Tom Gilbert and then Garon earned the Flames heavyweight five for fighting and a game misconduct on top of his original interference penalty.

The Oilers scored twice on the seven-minute advantage to rub salt in the Flames' wounds.

The incident didn't please Keenan, who was sending out his third- and fourth-liners to eat up some ice time because the team plays again tonight in Calgary when the Phoenix Coyotes visit the 'Dome.

The Coyotes beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in overtime last night.

"That showed a complete lack of discipline," said Keenan of Godard.

"Very undisciplined play that will cost him in the end because he's going to be suspended now -- that was his third game misconduct -- and he probably knows that.

"I have no idea why he acted the way he did. It's certainly not condoned by our coaching staff or by our team."

With Garon involved, Joseph came across centre ice and into the Oilers zone.

It's not the first time Cujo has eyed Garon.

"It happened last year, too," said Joseph, who was playing for the Coyotes at the time, while Garon toiled for the Kings.

"He was taking swings at guys in L.A., and the same thing happened.

"When you're outnumbered like that, you've got to go at least the red line.

"If you're outnumbered, you have to go. Someone's going to get hurt."

For his long skate -- the two goalies never came together -- Joseph was given a minor for leaving the crease.

At least he showed a willingness to help.

The same couldn't be said about the players in front of Joseph all night.

"We left him out to dry. He was by himself the whole game," said Alex Tanguay of Joseph.

"He did his job. The rest of us can't say the same."


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