SUN Hockey Pool

Flames beaten by foes again

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

DENVER -- The script was followed to the letter to start.

Early goal? Check.

Strong edge in play? Check.

Perfect position to put away a struggling team? You bet.

Then the Calgary Flames collectively abandoned the gameplan and frittered away two points for the second time in just as many weeks to the Colorado Avalanche with last night's 4-3 loss.

"By no means do we feel that was a gimme," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "We're playing Colorado at home, they played us very well last time. We've had some tight games all year, and we know how desperate and hungry they are.

"We didn't take them lightly."

Sure looked that way after Rene Bourque's early first-period goal opened the scoring before the announced crowd of 13,409 at the Pepsi Center.

Then ...

"We just didn't keep it going," stated d-man Adrian Aucoin. "I think we tried to make high-risk plays a little too much. When you're feeling confident and playing well, sometimes you try those, but they're not going to work all the time.

"Whether it's a defenceman trying to pass through two guys on the breakout or a forward trying a backhand pass through guys, that comes back to bite you."

So does playing terrible defence.

How bad were the Flames in that department? They surrendered 42 shots, the most since the infamous 6-1 mid-November debacle in San Jose that became a turning point to their season.

Instead of clamping down on a struggling Avalanche team that had only one win in its last eight games, the Flames played run-and-gun and were victimized in the Mile High City again.

"We can play that way, but we're not as good," Aucoin said. "It's sad to say, but those wide-open games can be fun sometimes, but that's not the way we want to play and not how we're going to win on a constant basis.

"We weren't sharp, didn't make sharp plays. A lot of times you look at what a team does and works for them, and maybe we should do that a little bit more. Even though we ended up with a lot of shots, I thought we could have put more on the net. That's when we've been successful."

Marek Svatos scored twice for Colorado, while Milan Hejduk and Ruslan Salei added singles.

Bourque, Iginla and Aucoin replied for the Flames (30-15-4), who have lost only three of their last 10 games, but twice to the flickering Avalanche.

Curiously, Calgary won the first four meetings against Colorado (24-26-1) in this season's six-game series.

Kiprusoff stopped 38 shots, but was hardly at the top of his game.

Nor was Avalanche netminder Peter Budaj, at least not until the final few minutes while Calgary pushed for the equalizer, but the 36 pucks he blocked was just enough.

The Flames didn't help themselves by taking two penalties -- too many men and abuse of officials -- with 58 seconds left.


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