Flames survive to thrive

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

DETROIT -- Six minutes shorthanded.

Five defencemen sent to the sin bin.

Four straight minutes killing off Detroit five-on-three powerplays.

It should have added up to disaster for the Calgary Flames. Instead, the penalty nightmare equalled one wild 6-5 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings last night.

"This is one of those games where we could have gotten down or said, 'Another night,' " said captain Jarome Iginla.

"But we kept going and everybody contributed to this one. It's a good win."

They finished the night on a high, but much of that can be attributed to how they survived the stretch through the second half of the opening period.

Within a minute of Henrik Zetterberg's goal to make it a 1-1 game, referees Mike Leggo and Brad Watson herded Flames to the penalty box like the pied piper.

First came a dubious boarding major to Dion Phaneuf. He made contact as Dan Cleary had lost his footing while heading toward the boards.

Then came a delay-of game infraction on Jordan Leopold for firing the puck over the glass.

Cory Sarich was assessed a cross-checking penalty, the only penalty called after a scrum, and then Adrian Aucoin was handed a roughing minor, and Jim Vandermeer given a double-minor for one punch thrown at Johan Franzen. Franzen took swings at both of them and fell to the ice like he'd been shot by a cannon after Vandermeer's pop, but was given four minutes.

Detroit managed one powerplay goal through it all, which boosted the Flames, even if they fell behind 4-1 late in the second period.

"Absolutely, it was a boost" said Michael Cammalleri.

"We said to our PKers, 'Great job. We'll give up only one on all that.' That was a victory for us, we felt, and then it was our job to take it from there."

The Flames did, but everybody was shaking their heads at what transpired.

Head coach Mike Keenan bit his tongue so hard, it's amazing you didn't see blood, but still let a few lines out for the media.

"The officials know what kind of game they called in the first period, and we'll leave it at that. We worked through that problem," he said to start.

Later: "Phaneuf's penalty, in my estimation, was not a five-minute major. And, Franzen, in the altercation with Vandermeer, initiated it. I can't say any more than that."

Finally: "I'm proud of the team and pleased with the way we responded and got through the debacle of the first period."

Phaneuf didn't want to wade into any fray about the officials either.

"It's their judgement, the ref's judgement to make a call, and he made that call," he said.

At the eight-minute mark of the first period, shots were 3-2 in Detroit's favour.

When Mikael Samuelsson scored to end the last of the Flames penalties in that stretch, the shot clock read 25-2. Yes, goalie Miikka Kiprusoff deserves kudos.

"When they have that many powerplays, you can't worry about it if you're a goalie, just keep working and trying to find the puck," he said. "


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