Nine down, one to go for Calgary

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

In his nine-plus NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames, Jarome Iginla hasn't been part of near enough winning streaks.

None of them that can be termed record-tying.

At least, not until now.

Thanks to his team's 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks last night, Iginla can boast of being part of a nine-game home-ice winning streak, which will be an addendum to the team's record book. It's equal to the franchise mark set on four previous occasions.

"It feels good," said Iginla, who collected one goal and two assists in the victory. "We're actually not talking a lot about it, just going with the same mindset each game, trying to have a big start. And, at home, we've had better special teams than we've had on the road. We've had good special teams at home, drawing those powerplays.

"At home we've been a lot better and want to keep it going."

The last time the Flames won nine in a row was in the 1990-91 season.

The opportunity to set a new mark -- a perfect 10, if you will -- is Tuesday when the Minnesota Wild visit the Saddledome, where Calgary hasn't lost since Oct. 30.

Head coach Jim Playfair said the focus that night can't be as much about setting a new standard as it needs to be about climbing in the standings.

"We're in a position where we need points," said Playfair. "I think for the media, the fans and the organization, the fact that has taken place is special but our focus is on Tuesday now."

Calgary sits three points back of both Edmonton and Minnesota in the Northwest Division chase but has two games in hand on the Wild and one on the Oilers.

It's a position they find themselves in thanks to what became a somewhat harrowing victory.

Goals by Kristian Huselius, Dion Phaneuf, Iginla, and Matthew Lombardi staked the hosts to a 4-1 lead after two periods and chased star netminder Roberto Luongo from between the pipes.

But Jan Bulis and Kevin Bieksa added to Daniel Sedin's first-period marker to pull the Canucks -- an offensively challenged team with a half-dozen players on the shelf due to injury -- within one just past the midway point of the final period.

Alex Tanguay's final-minute empty netter sealed the deal.

"You've got to give them credit," Iginla said. "We had some chances in the beginning of the third period and they had a big push. It's a huge game, whichever team wins that, they're in the playoffs as far as the standings, and we didn't expect them to go away.

"We can be better but, at the same time, it's a very good game for us. We found a way to hold it and win a close game."

Which, Lombardi relayed, is a sign of the confidence the Flames are skating with at the 'Dome.

"We're a real confident group here," he said. "We're coming out strong and buying into the system here. We know the game plan and are doing it the way we're supposed to.

"Now we have to bring it on the road."

Besides, Playfair said the tightness of the game will give his team reason to stay focused with a big edge.

"We can say next time we have a lead like that, this is what we have to do to not repeat history," he explained. "That's how we talked about it as a team. We got two points, it's a big division win, but let's learn from it and move on."


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