Calgary Flames are in the Colorado Avalanche's heads.
The Flames made it nine wins in a row against their Northwest Division rivals by scoring three times in the third period for a 3-2 win on Thursday night. Calgary's struggling power play connected twice in 86 seconds, and Olli Jokinen beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 4:50 left in regulation to snap a 2-2 tie.
"We're aware of it, there's no doubt about it," said Giguere, who finished with 32 saves. "They are a team we've been struggling against and I feel it's a team we should be matching up well against. If we use our speed, work their D and put it deep, we should have a good chance to win against them but we just don't find a way to do that."
Jokinen had a theory of his own on Colorado's struggles against Calgary, which has won 11 of 12 against the Avs.
"We're probably in their head like Vancouver is kind of in ours," he said. "It's like no matter how we play against [Vancouver], it's a tough team to beat. Colorado probably feels the same way when they play us."
Jokinen took a cross-ice pass from Jarome Iginla and walked in on Giguere before beating him over the blocker for the game-winner. The Calgary captain looked ready to fire on Giguere before finding a streaking Jokinen on the far side.
"He kind of took a look at me a couple seconds earlier and probably faked everyone else in the building," Jokinen said. "It was a nice pass."
Calgary used the unlikeliest of scenarios -- the power play -- to put themselves in a position to win with Jokinen's goal. After going just 1-for-30 with the man advantage at the Scotiabank Saddledome since Oct. 26, the Flames struck twice with the extra man after a double minor for high sticking to T.J. Galiardi to overcome a 1-0 deficit.
Lee Stempniak worked a give-and-go with Brendan Morrison on the goal line, then rifled a shot over the shoulder of Giguere at 6:21 to even the score with 14 seconds remaining in the first half of the double minor. With Galiardi sitting out the second two minutes, Morrison fed Curtis Glencross from behind the net, and Glencross redirected the puck over Giguere to give the Flames the 2-1 lead.
"Mo made a couple of great passes," Stempniak said. "The first one, we talked about some of the things they were doing and how to counter it."
Morrison did more than just talk. During the second intermission, the 36-year-old center drew up some power-play ideas in the dressing room.
"He took a pen and showed the boys how it's done then he goes out there and gets a couple helpers," Jokinen said. "He was watching what we were doing in the first two periods and what's out there and he didn't play the power play the first two periods. He took the pen and actually showed us how it's done and then he goes out there and gets a couple helpers. He took the pen and said ‘we get a lot of shots but if we try these down low plays it might work'. It actually came true."
For his efforts, Morrison earned a new nickname.
"Reg Dunlop, I think, [Slap Shot's] player-coach." said Morrison, who has six points in two games after being scratched in five straight contests. "I heard that one a few times after the game."
Galiardi tried to atone for his penalty at 9:58. Breaking in one-on-one with speed, the Calgary native beat Miikka Kiprusoff through the five-hole to even the score at 2-2. But the Avalanche couldn't overcome Jokinen's late goal.
"It was nice for him to score that goal, especially in front of a lot of family members," Giguere said. "No one wants to take a penalty. You don't do that on purpose. I thought as a team it was nice we responded back. Unfortunately we gave them the third goal."
Matt Duchene opened the scoring at 15:15 of the second period, giving Colorado the edge heading into the third.
T.J. Brodie attempted to clear the puck out of the Flames zone, but couldn't get it by Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda. Hejda found a curling Duchene in the slot, who stopped and fired the puck over Kiprusoff's shoulder for his 10th goal of the season and first since Nov. 20.
With Erik Johnson in the penalty box shortly after Duchene's goal, Giguere took over. The Colorado goalie stopped seven shots on the ensuing penalty kill and aiding the Avalanche in escaping the period with the lead.
Calgary's Morrison-tweaked power play then stepped up for the first time in a long time.
"We had to take advantage of the power plays," Morrison said. "It was a tight game tonight. Sometimes you get lucky I guess, so we'll go with that."