SUN Hockey Pool

Newfound wealth wasted

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

The new kids in town did their share.

It still wasn't enough for the Calgary Flames to reach the win column for the first time this season.

Four off-season acquisitions -- Todd Bertuzzi, Andre Roy, Michael Cammelleri and Rene Bourque -- all lit the lamp, but the Flames wasted a two-goal lead and fell 5-4 to the Vancouver Canucks in overtime to spoil last night's home-opener.

"We lost that sense of urgency," said head coach Mike Keenan. "When you let your guard down just a little bit against a team that is a hard-working team like Vancouver, they'll take advantage of it. It's that attention to detail in terms of defensive-zone coverage we let up on.

"In terms of the mind-set, we took a little bit of relapse and it cost us the game. You should win a hockey game in your own building with a two-goal lead."

Just past the midway point of the opening period, all looked well for the Flames as they held a 3-1 edge.

Yet they ended up dropping both halves of a home-and-home set with the Canucks to start the season.

The bugaboo is Calgary's defensive play.

The Flames have surrendered 11 goals in two contests, including Pavol Demitra's OT winner that stunned the sellout crowd of 19,289 at the Saddledome.

"We're giving up a lot of point-blank things, bang-bang (plays) in front, not giving Kipper a lot of chances," said captain Jarome Iginla. "We'll be good for a while and then give up a few more bang-bang plays, which are real tough on goalies.

"We've got to tighten that up."

Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff has been plagued by slow starts the past few seasons, but it wouldn't be fair to pin the problems solely on his shoulders.

"Definitely not where we wanted to be, not when you give up five goals," defenceman Cory Sarich said of his team's defensive performance. "We made some strides -- our work ethic was a lot better -- but we have to tighten things down in our own end."

Daniel Sedin opened the scoring with Vancouver's first shot and added another goal to force overtime.

Rick Rypien and Ryan Kesler tallied 62 seconds apart in the middle of the second period for the Canucks, who are disproving the theory they don't have enough offence.

On the other hand, the Flames aren't providing enough offence to go with that porous defence.

Keenan was asked if his best players were being the club's best players, which caused him pause for thought before he replied: "Put it this way, when you've got a two-goal lead and you lose in your own building, I'll let the results answer the question."

The heated rivalry certainly received more fuel, too, with a flurry of fisticuffs.

Roy and fellow Flame Brandon Prust dropped the gloves with Darcy Hordichuk and Rypien, respectively, but the highlight-reel bout featured Iginla and Willie Mitchell.

The spirited scrap was already looking to be a true battle, but it ended in a hurry when the Calgary captain dropped Mitchell to his knees with a wicked left hook.

Still, the defeat on the scoreboard loomed larger for Iginla.

"It's disappointing," he said. "There were many good things out there. We had some breakdowns again, but we were able to get things going off the start. We all showed up.

"We got an important point but would have liked both."

Kiprusoff made 29 saves, while Luongo stopped 25 shots.

Up next for the Flames is a visit from the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday.


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