Flames Fall Flat on Home Ice 

Team Responds to Sutter Bag Skate with Flop

January 11th, 2002
Rick Charlton

So much for the honeymoon.

Darryl Sutter opened his tenure as head coach of the Calgary Flames with a run of 4-0-1 but has since lost his last two, the latest a mesmerizing 7-2 home ice disaster at the hands of the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets in front of 14,827 unfortunate booing witnesses at the Saddledome last night.

If Sutter blew a gasket in losing a 1-0 decision to Ottawa only two nights ago, the Senators with 24 wins in their last 30, then it will take a Herculean effort to keep his head from spinning in circles after this one.

The game was a key divisional one for the Flames - but which one wouldn't be for a team nine points in arrears of a playoff spot?

Calgary had blown by Columbus earlier in the week and were looking upwards at the five teams separating them and a playoff spot.

But Blue Jackets ditched head coach Dave King and have quickly rattled off four wins in a row under Doug MacLean, Columbus now three points ahead of the fading Flames, themselves in a tie for 15th and dead last in the Western Conference with the Nashville Predators.

Calgary is 14-20-6-3 on the season for 37 points and the worst home record in the NHL sank to even further depths, Calgary with only five home ice wins this season.

Flame netminders Roman Turek and Jamie McLennan surrendered seven goals on only 25 shots.

Interestingly, it was similar 7-2 results in late November at Boston and St. Louis which pushed Sutter's predecessor Greg Gilbert over the edge of the cliff.

The difference, of course, is this time the coach isn't going anywhere.

But some players might.

Saprykin Drury Clark
Gelinas Conroy Iginla
Niedermayer Yelle Sloan
Berube Johansson Nichol
Lydman Regehr
Boughner Gauthier
Montador Leopold

Jarome Iginla opened scoring at 2:09 of the first on a man advantage, powering a huge shot through Columbus defenceman Jaroslav Spacek, the latter serving as a handy screen for Columbus starter Jean-Francois Labbe.

But that was as cheery as the night would get for Calgary, which quickly surrendered the equalizer to Sean Pronger at 3:28 and then the go-ahead marker to Andrew Cassels at 6:46.

"We didn't show up after that," admitted a downcast Bob Boughner to the FAN960 after the game. "We gave them everything they got."

The nail in the coffin came when Chris Drury turned the puck over at the Jacket blueline, resulting in a two on one break with Whitney feeding Grant Marshall for his fifth of the season at 16:59.

Sutter had had enough of Turek by that time and started backup Jamie McLennan in the second period, although both goaltenders would suffer from the defensive gaffes of their teammates through much of the night.

Flames had one opportunity to crawl back into the game but squandered a five on three advantage early in the middle stanza. Columbus immediately came back with a Rick Nash marker in a similar two man advantage situation at 8:16.

David Vyborny plowed straight to the net off a faceoff and beat McLennan from close-in at 10:22.

Craig Conroy seemed to score midway through the second on a power play but the goal was called back after it was determined the Flames centre had gloved it into the net.

Martin Gelinas whistled one through Labbe's legs at 3:14 but the Jackets came screaming right back at, Lasse Pirjeta roofing one on McLennan at 5:26.

Pirjeta finished off the humiliation at 13:38 with his second of the game, fourth against the Flames this year and only his sixth of the season.

As is usually the case, ex-Flames came back to kill their old team, former Calgary farmhand Derrick Walser racking up three assists in the game.

Flames had 30 shots on Labbe.

"Defensively, as a whole, we were terrible tonight," said Boughner.

Next up is Montreal on on the road Monday night.

Get Your Calgarypuck Gear!




Columbus Blue Jackets 7
Penguins Calgary Flames 2

1) Jean Francois Labbe - Rookie recovers from an early Flame goal to shut the door in clinical fashion. 

2) Ray Whitney - Nine game point streak continues with two points. Anyone remember his old junior linemate, Pat Falloon, taken 21 spots ahead of Whitney? 

3) David Vyborny - ex-Oiler farmhand puts up a goal and two assists in a walkover.

Jamie McLennan's save on a Geoff Sanderson breakaway in the second period might have been better but its not how you make them, but when you make them. Martin Gelinas swept through the Columbus goal crease and had two whacks at the puck on the backhand but Labbe was there to stack the pads to keep the game 3-1 Columbus with only a minute to go in the first period.

We'll give this to the fight card in an otherwise uninteresting affair physically, Chris Clark whipping Jason Marshall in a middle-weight fight late in the second period and then Craig Berube holding his own against mammoth Jody Shelly mid-way through the third.

After losing 1-0 to the Senators on Thursday night, Flames observers couldn't be blamed waiting for the other shoe to drop. Calgary has suffered a double blanking already three times this year. . . . . . Mike Vernon started 27 consecutive games for the Flames during the 1992-93 campaign. Turek has started 23 straight games. . . . . . Columbus is an unfathomable 3-7-1-1 against the Flames in their brief three year history . . . . . Flames were 53% in the faceoff circle, led by Scott Nichol who won all four draws he took. Mike Sillinger was 59% for the Jackets . . . . . . Toni Lydman logged 28:11 in ice time for the Flames and was miraculously even in the plus minus column. Luc Richardson led Columbus with 23:18 in ice time.


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