Flames hammer Maple Leafs

Flames Rene Bourque, Olli Jokinen, Mark Giordano and Niklas Hagman celebrate a second-period goal...

Flames Rene Bourque, Olli Jokinen, Mark Giordano and Niklas Hagman celebrate a second-period goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Scotiabank Saddledome last night. (LYLE ASPINALL/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:02 AM ET

Flames fans were prepared to be constantly booing an old face.

Instead, they spent the bulk of the night cheering their local heroes.

Dion Phaneuf’s return to Calgary to play his old team for the first time since the trade last season was the storyline, but the parties who came west and are still with the Flames played a bigger part in a 5-2 thrashing of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Matt Stajan set up the goal which sent the Flames off and running to the win — giving them consecutive victories for the first time in nearly two months — and Niklas Hagman added some insurance with a third-period tally.

However, it was a complete team effort for the Flames, who improved to 14-15-3 and last won back-to-back games during a three-game streak that ended Oct. 26.

For his part, Phaneuf — the centrepiece of the blockbuster nine-play swap betweeen the teams Jan. 31 and target of boo birds all game — was essentially a non-factor.

The sellout Saddledome crowd of 19,289 was buzzing long before the drop of the puck and treated to a quick-played frenzy in the first minutes, which culminated in Nikolai Kulemin’s tally to put the Leafs on the board first.

Seconds after Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester rang a shot off the crossbar and Alex Tanguay whiffed at the bouncing puck that came right to him, the Leafs went up the ice.

Clarke MacArthur had two shooting chances blocked by the Flames defencemen, but Kulemin was on the spot for the loose puck and hit the open net behind Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

Less than a minute later, though, Mikael Backlund scored his fourth of the season to draw the hosts even.

Calgary was buzzing around the zone and eventually Backlund sent a shot on net from the top of the circle with Ales Kotalik providing the screen and beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Giguere held the fort through most of the middle period with a handful of highlight-reel saves, but Alex Tanguay started a run of three goals in a 57-second span tto blow it open.

Stajan, who returned to the lineup to face his former club after being scratched the two previous outings, fed a no-look pass to Tanguay and the winger — who probably should have scored twice earlier in the game — made no mistake.

From there, the rout was on.

Thanks to a Mikhail Grabovski penalty for a slew foot on Brendan Morrison, the Flames went on a powerplay, and made the most of it almost immediately.

Olli Jokinen netted his fifth of the season with a powerplay goal from the point, and while the fans were still buzzing about the fact those two tallies were just 33 seconds apart, Rene Bourque made it a three-goal edge by ripping a shot off the rush for his 13th of the season.

Jokinen’s goal was his third in four games, and he finished with a three-point night.

The trio of goals is the seventh fastest in Flames history and quickest since scoring three times in 53 seconds last season against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Giguere was given a mercy hook after the intermission, the victim of four goals on 24 shots and plenty of putrid defensive play in front of him. Giguere had a few Flames shaking their heads or looking skyward with big saves in the first 34 minutes.

Jonas Gustavsson didn’t fare much better. He was beat on the second shot he fact when Hagman netted a powerplay goal.

Kiprusoff was nowhere as busy as his compatriots, but stood strong in a 17-save outing.

Grabovski also scored for the Maple Leafs, who arrived having won four of six but fall to 12-15-4.

After the initial boos, Phaneuf was most noticeable tripping Jarome Iginla on a breakaway in the dying moments, although the Calgary captain failed to score on the ensuing penalty shot.

The Flames finish their three-game homestand Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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