Night Of Firsts Sparks Flames To Win

A couple of newcomers scored for the first time as Calgary Flames, boosting the club to a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night at the Saddledome.

Rookie center Roman Horak scored his first career NHL goal while off-season free agent acquisition Lee Stempniak got his first in a Flames uniform. The two tallies helped Calgary claim the lead and it was a lead they would not surrender for the rest of the night.

Colorado got on the board in the first with a power-play goal from defenseman Kyle Quincey but their lead would be brief. Finding himself on the top line sandwiched between Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, Roman Horak did what any smart player would do when playing with two talented veteran hockey players. The 20-year-old Czech followed up an Iginla shot and was then able to knock home Tanguay’s centering pass by neatly directing the puck past Avs goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere to tie the game at one.

After the game the youngster downplayed the skillfulness of the goal but was certainly happy to contribute.

I shot it, and I think it hit their D-man the first time,” said Horak. “It came back to me and it was on my backhand. I just tried to put it up. It went in, right? So that was good. -Scott Cruickshank, Postmedia News

The first period ended in a 1-1 tie but the shot category wasn’t quite as even. The Flames outshot their opponents 21-5 in the first 20 minutes and came out in the second looking to feed off the momentum of their dominating first period performance. At 3:57 of the second period, Horak returned the favour by outworking an Avalanche player along the boards and firing a shot on goal which was then deposited into the net on the rebound by Lee Stempniak. Having gone scoreless in the first seven games with his new team, the Flames big off-season forward acquisition will hope that the goals will start to come a little easier than the first one.

A Rene Bourque power-play marker put the Flames up two heading into the third but the Avs refused to go quietly and controlled much of the final frame. Peppering Flames goaltender Miika Kiprusoff with 20 shots through the game’s final 20 minutes, Colorado closed within one after Ryan Wilson’s goal at 15:29. They continued to press for the equalizer but the Flames held firm and put the game away with Bourque’s second of the night and fifth of the season into the empty net.

The win made for an even happier birthday for Kiprusoff who celebrated his 35th year with an important two points.

With five points through the first four games of their six-game homestand, the Flames will be hoping for some revenge of sorts against the St. Louis Blues on Friday night. The Blues beat the Flames 5-2 back on October 10 and got their Western road-swing off to an impressive start with a shutout win at Vancouver Wednesday night.