Flame Douse Ducks On Super Sunday

Chris Clark Scores Two in 80's Game

February 1st, 2004

They owed it to the fans.

In a throwback to the wide-open 1980's, Anaheim and Calgary combined for 10 goals Sunday afternoon, the 15,189 witnesses at the Saddledome at least relieved the local boys were finally outscoring the opposition 6-4 after being pasted badly in their last two home ice appearances.

Desperation drove coach Darryl Sutter to kick butt and name names via the local media prior to the game, no doubt alarmed at a Flames team that had collapsed in embarrassing fashion on Friday night in a 5-3 loss to Chicago, chased from the ice by the hissing and booing of the Gallery Gods clearly displeased with putting out genuine Canadian dollars to watch this mess of a team in person.

Yet there was one of Sutter's principal targets, Chris Clark, with two goals by the end of the game, three of the four defencemen he singled out with more than 20 minutes of ice time each and Roman Turek officially in the doghouse, the limping and oft-maligned Jamie McLennan coming in to register the victory in a 20 save performance.

If not for a hot Anaheim power play Calgary might have won this going away, but the Ducks, who entered the game having scored eight goals in their last 16 extra-man attempts, exited with another two in six tries, including one on a two man advantage.

Sutter would have been pleased to have seen glimpses of the dominating Flames team of December, a physical aggressiveness largely missing in January and a team imposing its speed on Anaheim to great advantage through most of the game.

"We tried to get the puck in deep, that's one thing we wanted to do," said Clark after the game on FAN960, adding the Flames are most successful in tossing the puck into the opposition zone while whizzing through neutral ice to gain puck possession deep.

In the end the Flames probably did exactly that, limiting the Ducks to little five on five, in this case, only 24 shots, while pressing hard with speed through neutral ice.

The more dominating line for the Flames might have been the speedy trio of Martin Gelinas, Dean McAmmond and Shean Donovan, the trio combining three goals and nine points.

Craig Conroy also scored for the Flames.

In another dominating performance, Sergei Fedorov had a goal and three assists, factoring in on every Anaheim score, yet the Ducks wasted it with first starting goaltender Martin Gerber being pulled then Jean Sebastien Giguere allowing another three goals to put the game out of reach.

"We've got to be better defensively. We're a defence first team and tonight we weren't so good in our own end at all," said rookie winger Joffrey Lupul. "Today it was just as much us as it was them."

"We'll take the two points," said assistant coach Rich Preston. "They can't all be Rembrandts. I thought we were a lot better in some areas and still not so good in others."

The removal of Turek whom Sutter had earlier vowed would play every game to the All-Star break, was a key event in itself, probably a calculated move to remove the goaltending excuse from a fragile team that had totally choked against the Lightning but particularly the Hawks.

The players themselves will probably be vastly relieved not having to dodge "Turek sucks" questions from the media in the post-game scrum.

For McLennan the best that could be said is he stopped all the shots he should have stopped and while not a tour de force performance, it was nonetheless a winning one which is the only measure Sutter uses.

The same might have been said of Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold and Toni Lydman, all three singled out for blistering criticism by Sutter earlier in the day yet all three finishing with key roles and more than 20 minutes in ice time.

While surrendering four goals, not exactly an improvement, the Flames were nevertheless more closely playing the style they'll need to pull themselves out of their current funk, now 7-8-1 in their last 16.

The victory lifted the Flames from their momentary refuge in ninth spot in the NHL's Western Conference all the way up to seventh, vaulting the St. Louis Blues on points and ahead of Los Angeles by virtue of more wins.

Calgary is 26-19-4-3, two points behind Dallas with two games in hand and one behind surging Nashville. The surprise might be the Blues, off to a torrid start but now in free fall and sitting ninth and out of the playoffs.

Also important for the Flames was putting some distance between themselves and the trailing group of Edmonton, Phoenix and Minnesota, the closest of that grouping of tenth through 12th now eight points in arrears and virtually out of the race.

Flames were two for five on the power play. Calgary directed 22 shots at the Anaheim net.

Next up is Los Angeles on Tuesday night at the Saddledome, the Kings coaching staff taking in the afternoon game with Anaheim.





1 Sergei Federov - a goal and three assists, a plus one and 22:34 in ice time in a dominating appearance at least kept the Ducks within hailing distance . . . . but, as usual for Anaheim this year, not enough. 

2 Shean Donovan - Prettiest goal of the day, using his great speed to blow through two Anaheim defenders for his 17th of the season. 

3 Mike Commodore - Not expecting much, he provided some physical muscle the Flames have been lacking with their wimpy performances of lack, particularly in light of the injury to Rhett Warrener.

Faced with an Anaheim two on one, Jamie McLennan struck down a Steve Rucchin shot with his blocker, allowing Craig Conroy to rocket the other way and give the Flames an early 1-0 lead. It was the kind of clutch save missing from Calgary goaltenders for far too long.

Anaheim flatnose Garret Burnett was lumbering into the Flames end when he was plowed into the boards by Calgary call-up Mike Commodore, the incident resulting in a fisticuff brouhaha.

Anaheim entered the game having scored eight times in their previous 16 powerplays. Calgary entered the game with kills in 33 of their last 35 shorthanded situations, including 12 of last 13. . . . . While Clark admitted the Flames are scoreboard watching these days he had the right answer: "We can't look for other teams to help us out. We have to look after our own end of it." In years past at this point on the calendar, the Flames would indeed be looking at the scoreboard for other teams to lose, usually a sure sign of no hope. This year, they control their own fate. . . . . Flames were murdered in the faceoff circle, the Ducks winning 61% of their draws and led by Sammy Pahlsson at 76%. Conroy was 52% for the Flames. . . . . . Conroy's marker was the first time he had scored in 26 games . . . . Jordan Leopold led the Flames in ice time with 23:22. Denis Gauthier, singled out for hot criticism twice in two days by coach Sutter, logged 16:06. The other "left side" defencemen singled out for a blistering attack by Sutter were Robyn Regehr and Toni Lydman, the latter having ice time of 21:32 and 22:47. Sutter has engaged in such a tactic before, publicly naming people then giving them big ice time in the following game, the classic whip/carrot approach. Gauthier might be another story though. . . Niclas Havelid led the Ducks with 24:21 in ice time.

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