Flames crumble to Avs

RANDY SPORTAK, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

The Colorado Avalanche may be over-achieving, but there are reasons they sit atop the NHL standings.

Especially a never-say-die attitude and great goaltending.

The Calgary Flames found out first-hand.

Despite setting a franchise record for the fastest two goals to start a home game, the Flames became just the latest victim of the surprising Avs in last night’s 3-2 loss.

On a night the Flames had all kinds of advantages in their favour — a few days of rest and Colorado playing the night before being two of them — they failed to take advantage.

So, instead of stating their case as to which Northwest team is the one to fear these days, Calgary had its three-game winning streak snapped, while Colorado won its fourth straight and eighth in nine outings to improve to a stunning 10-1-2.

Flying in the face of the end result, the night kicked off with a bang for the Flames, who had been perfect during their homestand.

Following the exact recipe in the situation, the hosts burst out of the gates with a perfect start that saw both Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen score 70 seconds into the affair.

In the opening minute, Curtis Glencross started the rush with a nifty touch-pass to Craig Conroy, who, in turn fed Iginla as he raced through the neutral zone.

Iginla sent a long wrister that went off the defender and eluded Colorado goalie Craig Anderson.

The sellout crowd of 19,289 was still buzzing, at least those who had reached their seats, when Jokinen doubled the lead.

Jokinen skated with the puck from behind the net to the circle and simply sent it into the traffic in front of the net. His shot banked off a skate and in.

It’s the first regular-season home-ice goal for Jokinen since being acquired at the trade deadline.

For some reason, though, the Flames tend to make it hard on themselves after early-game success, and the Avalanche pulled even before the opening period was done.

Before the midway point of the frame, David Koci put the visitors on the board when he deflected Brett Clark’s point shot past Miikka Kiprusoff.

Then, David Jones pounced on a loose puck during a flurry of action and made Calgary’s quick start a distant memory.

After a listless second period, Wojtek Wolski — the Avalanche's leading scorer — scored the winner five minutes into the final frame by taking advantage of terrible defensive-zone play.

Wolski went through both Daymond Langkow and Nigel Dawes at the high slot, and then both defencemen backed away to give him all the time and space he needed to snap a shot inside the far post for his eighth goal of the season.

From that point, Anderson took over during a 29-save performance.

The biggest individual surprise of the season — the former Flames draft from 1999 pick bounced between the minors and back-up for many years — Anderson showed the form that’s helped him set the Avalanche franchise record for wins in the opening month.

He stopped a steady stream of third-period shots when the Flames finally awoke from their doldrums.

And when Anderson needed a hand, he received it from his teammates, who were blocked as many shots as he did throughout the push.

Kiprusoff stopped 11 shots in taking the loss that drops Calgary to 7-3-1.

Calgary plays host to the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night.


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