The Flames are back

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

Trademark Flames hockey was front and centre last night.

Miikka Kiprusoff provided outstanding netminding.

Jarome Iginla chipped in with a goal.

Aggressive forecheck, strong defence and sparkling special teams came to the fore, too.

It added up to the most inspired Flames effort since the magical playoff run of 2004, worthy of a 3-0 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oilers.

It was an effort unseen through the opening five games of the season was finally delivered by a Flames team that emphatically snapped a three-game winless run before last night's sellout gathering of 19,289 at the Saddledome.

"It's a step, it's better but I think -- and every other guy will tell you the same thing -- we can play better," said centre Daymond Langkow. "Kipper really held us in there tonight.

"It's a win so there's a good feeling but we can't be satisfied because we can get better."

Being the first of eight installments of the Battle of Alberta on the regular-season schedule, the marquee promised an entertaining clash.

And unlike so many disappointing movie sequels it was delivered, opening with an outstanding pace of play that featured back-and-forth rushes that boasted both scoring chances and tremendous hits.

Langkow scored Calgary's first opening-period goal of the season on the powerplay (yes, Calgary's much-maligned, all-too-often anemic powerplay) and Iginla netted his second tally of the season before the opening frame ended to spot the Flames a much-needed lead.

And with Kiprusoff at his best between the pipes, it was more than enough.

"He basically single-handedly won the game for us," Langkow said. "We had a decent first period but weren't very good in the second and he came up with key saves. He played tremendous.

"Having that confidence he's gonna stop the puck is huge for us. It lets us not play as uptight as we have in the past."

Rhett Warrener's bank-shot into the empty net rounded out the scoring for Calgary club, which improved to 2-3-1.

While the offence was almost on par with what's been seen in the previous outings, the difference for the hosts was Kiprusoff, who delivered his best performance of the season.

"Today I felt good and I just have to build on it," said the always quiet netminder while donning the team's hard hat.

Kiprusoff put a huge dent in his shockingly high goals-against average while blocking 33 shots to collect his eighth career shutout, and first against his biggest rivals.

He was especially effective in keeping the penalty killing perfect for the first time this season. Most notable was Kiprusoff's mastery midway through the game while the Flames were on the short end of a 5-on-3 man advantage that lasted two full minutes.

First, when appearing to be down and out, Kiprusoff reached back with his stick and denied Ales Hemsky.

To kill the penalties with authority, he twice robbed Fernando Pisani just as the 5-on-3 expired, received a standing ovation from the crowd, that chanted in unison "Kipper! Kipper."

Markkanen stopped 25 shots for the Oilers, who have dropped three in a row to even their record to 3-3.

Calgary continues the home stand tomorrow night when the Wayne Gretzky-coached Phoenix Coyotes come to the Saddledome.

- - -

CALGARY FLAMES: 3

EDMONTON OILERS: 0


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