SUN Hockey Pool

Flames take punchy Battle

STEVE MACFARLANE, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

Motivation was all around them.

A speech from general manager Darryl Sutter reiterating what the players and coaches had been talking about for days.

The memory of a 5-0 shellacking from the Oilers in Edmonton to start the week in the worst of ways.

A home crowd eager to see redemption.

And the payback started early in the Calgary Flames' 4-1 win over the Oilers at the Saddledome last night.

Dion Phaneuf also sought some personal payback. The Flames defenceman, who was jumped by Ethan Moreau in Monday's game, dropped the gloves on his first shift with the Oilers captain.

"Saturday night. Battle of Alberta and Hockey Day in Canada. That's what it's all about," said Phaneuf with a grin.

"There's a lot of emotion.

"We both talked and both decided it was something that needed to be done."

There were a couple more fights over the first six minutes, and the Flames rode the wave of momentum all the way until Jarome Iginla potted the empty-netter to seal the victory.

"We knew we had to have it tonight. There was no excuse for it --we were going to be ready," said Owen Nolan, who scored twice for the Flames in the rematch.

"We flat out got embarrassed last time in their rink, and we wanted to make sure we paid them back."

Numerous opportunities were stolen away by goaltender Mathieu Garon, but an innocent looking shot by Phaneuf hit a stick and then bounced off Nolan's body before hopping over Garon's pads and into the net to give the home side a 1-0 lead at 16:14.

The Flames' powerless powerplay, which had gone 2-for-26 over the last six games, connected to extend the lead in the second period. Phaneuf's slapshot from the blueline found the far side of the net through traffic.

Nolan scored his second when Garon stumbled as he cut off the angle, and the winger ripped a slapshot into the top of the net from the faceoff circle. Nolan now has four multi-goal performances as a Flame.

"I think I might have more two-goal games than one-goal games," said Nolan, chuckling. "It's just the way it happens."

The subject of Sutter's talk with his team after Friday's practice was nothing new to the players.

Hearing it again, though, was just another reminder of how poorly they'd been playing since the all-star break.

Getting off to a strong start was critical, and the physical play the Flames displayed in the early going was all tactic.

"That was our game plan," said Nolan. "We've got a big team, and we don't always use it to our benefit.

"I think that's why we limited their shots, because they didn't want to go into the corners."

Edmonton managed just 15 shots on Miikka Kiprusoff.

The Oilers spoiled the goaltender's bid for his first shutout of the season with 3:55 to play when Robert Nilsson -- son of former Flames great Kent Nilsson -- capped off his breakaway with a beautiful deke.

But by then the damage had already been done by an impressive Flames attack that kept the play in the Oilers' zone much of the night, and even featured an offensive rush by Cory Sarich, who drew the powerplay that allowed Phaneuf to score the important second goal.

"It's been embarrassing, those games we've had," said Conroy.

"There's a lot of pride in this room. We were determined to turn it around.

"It's a team effort. Everybody got to play. I think (tough guy Eric) Godard got almost 10 minutes tonight. When we're rolling and we're playing like that, everyone's going to play more and it's good for this team.

"All those little things it takes that we talk about, we actually did ... so hopefully, people are happy."


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