SUN Hockey Pool

Lombardi stokes Flames

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Earlier in the day, Calgary Flames associate coach Jim Playfair was assessing the play of Matthew Lombardi for the radio broadcast's pre-game show.

Among the lines Playfair used was that the speedy centre needed more grit in his game, that Lombardi should be wearing more ice packs after each contest.

Lombardi gave exactly the effort everybody has been looking for in last night's 6-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

Lombardi's key shorthanded goal midway through the second period highlighted a three-point night for the Montreal product and sparked the Flames to a victory that snapped a four-game losing skid.

"We all worked hard," said Lombardi, who wasn't wearing an ice pack but a grin. "I think that's maybe what we've been lacking the last few games, working hard and working smart. We came out hard in the first period getting pucks deep and to the net, and I think the rest of the game it opened up for us."

While the sold-out Saddledome crowd of 19,289 featured a large and boisterous contingent of Canadiens' supporters, it was the Flames faithful who erupted when Lombardi sped away for a breakaway and lifted a shot over Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak to even the game at two apiece.

The goal opened the floodgates.

Dion Phaneuf scored 32 seconds later and then Dustin Boyd also scored while shorthanded in a one-sided period that saw the Flames outshoot the visitors by a impressive 20-4 count.

"It just shows what we're capable off, that we can break out with goals at any time," said Boyd, whose goal was his first in 16 games.

About the only disappointment in the middle period for the Flames was watching their struggling powerplay fail to click during an 83 second five-on-three advantage.

But that was forgotten with the trio of goals that propelled them to a victory that improves Calgary's record to 31-18-4 and a nine-point lead on the rest of the Northwest Division. It also was the 657th win for head coach Mike Keenan, which ties him with Pat Quinn for fourth spot on the NHL's all-time list.

Rene Bourque and David Moss rounded out the scoring with third-period goals before a raucous crowd.

"That was as close to a playoff atmosphere I've seen in the four regular seasons I've played here. Right from warm-up on out," Phaneuf said. "It was a huge boost. We have the best fans and they were loud again tonight with a lot of white sweaters from the opposing team. It was good to reward them."

After the first period, though, it was the Montreal fans relishing the night, thanks to goals by Matt D'Agostini and Tomas Plekanec that sandwiched Michael Cammalleri's 28th of the season.

After the break, the Flames stormed out of the gate, showing the determination needed to snap a losing skid.

With a win, there was definitely a different atmosphere in the Calgary dressing room.

"It was two teams in tough times lately, and we really wanted to be the team that came out with two points," Kiprusoff said. "We go on the road now, and we needed this for the confidence."


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