Flames end homestand on low note

Vancouver Canucks Alexandre Burrows scores on Miikka Kiprusoff of the Calgary Flames during NHL...

Vancouver Canucks Alexandre Burrows scores on Miikka Kiprusoff of the Calgary Flames during NHL hockey in Calgary, Alberta, Tuesday November 1, 2011. AL CHAREST/ QMI AGENCY

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:59 AM ET

CALGARY - Well, so much for ending the homestand on a high note.

So much for heading on the road with a boost of confidence.

And, so much for passing a litmus test.

The Flames are well aware about their lack of success against top teams over last season plus the first month of this campaign. All kinds of players said they knew last night's clash with the Vancouver Canucks was a chance to see how they stack up with a strong team, even if the visitors were slow out of the gates.

After a 5-1 shellacking at the Saddledome, it was back to the drawing board.

"This re-emphasizes what good teams do to win games," said centre Brendan Morrison. "There's never an ounce of panic in their game, making the right decisions with the puck, supporting guys on the ice. All these things. They're working as a cohesive group.

"We haven't got to that point."

The Flames had a good start, but things fell apart in a hurry, and you could sense it shortly after Chris Higgins opened the scoring with his breakaway goal.

By the time the Canucks scored their second powerplay goal of opening period to make it 3-0, it was painfully obvious the Flames were overmatched by a Canucks team which hadn't met expectations to start the season but sure looked to be on all cylinders Tuesday night.

By the midway point, the demoralized looks were there for all to see.

OFF THE GLASS

Is that really the same Higgins who played here a couple of seasons ago? During his short tenure in the Calgary Ñ a 14-game stint late in the 2009-10 campaign Ñ Higgins played with all kinds of effort by had no finish. His breakaway goal to make it 1-0 was a beauty and gave him six tallies this season. We couldn't help but figure he had completely lost his confidence last season, but Higgins said of his goal-scoring touch this season: "It's something tangible you can hold onto, I guess, when you see you're getting points, but I just concentrate on everything else besides individual accomplishments. You worry about your own game Ñ you know what you do well so keep doing it Ñ and the results will take care of itself if you put the work behind it." ... As goofy as it sounds, Matt Stajan didn't hurt himself in his first game back after being a healthy scratch two outings. He and linemates Tom Kostopoulos and Tim Jackman were basically the only trio to make anything happen. "I'd be lying if I said I'm not frustrated," Stajan said before the game. "Obviously I'm not happy with the situation because you want to play Ñ every player does. I'll get my chance to go in there and do a job."

IN THE CORNERS

Not often to you hear mock cheers for both goalies in the same game? Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo received a Bronx Cheer in the first minute when he stopped a long dump-in. Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff received the same treatment after his team was down 5-0, but it seemed to be more from Canucks fans than hometown crowds. It's not like Kiprusoff was to blame for that loss ... The good news for the Flames is Vancouver gave them great footage on how to run a powerplay ... After being hemmed in their zone midway throughout the second period, the line of Jarome Iginla, Morrison and Alex Tanguay skated to the bench like a demoralized group. Their lack of production is going to cost the Flames more and more ... Here's the bizarre stat of the night. Both Henrik and Daniel Sedin had more penalty minutes than points in the Vancouver whitewash of the Flames.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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