DENVER – Home or away, it makes no difference to the Calgary Flames. It seems they always find a way to defeat the Colorado Avalanche.
It happened again Sunday night at Pepsi Center, where the Flames skated to a 2-1 victory for their seventh consecutive win against an Avalanche team that has lost five of six games on home ice this season.
The Flames, who won all three meetings here last year, got goals from Mark Giordano and Curtis Glencross to support the strong goaltending of Miikka Kiprusoff, who made 32 saves and has been in net for all seven straight wins against Colorado.
"I don’t know," Glencross said when asked the secret to the Flames’ success against the Avalanche. "I think our biggest thing is to eliminate our neutral-zone turnovers against them because they’re a good transition team. We try to get pucks in so we can take advantage of some of their defensemen back there. We want to get pucks behind their ‘D’ and make them play in their end."
It doesn’t hurt to have a goalie like Kiprusoff at the other end of the ice. He made a number of big saves, including one on Paul Stastny with 30 seconds left in regulation.
"Absolutely," Glencross said. "He’s one of the best goalies in the league. When he’s on his game and makes key saves at key times for us, it brings momentum for us. It was a good all-around team win."
Calgary has scored 30 goals during the streak against Colorado, which has managed just seven goals while posting a 1-5-0 record at home. The Avalanche has a 1-4-1 mark in the past six games overall heading into a game Tuesday night in Detroit.
The Avalanche wasn’t able to register a shot on goal during a six-on-four power play for the final 15.5 seconds with goalie Semyon Varlamov on the bench for an extra skater when Flames defenseman Scott Hannan was penalized for tripping Matt Duchene.
"They did a good job clearing pucks right away," said Stastny, who opened the scoring 34 seconds into the game. "We have to find a way to bear down there and get a stick on that puck."
The Flames tied the game 1-1 at 5:19 of the first period on a goal by Giordano, who took a seemingly harmless shot from just inside the blue line near the left-wing boards that handcuffed Varlamov and fluttered into the net.
Glencross’ power-play goal broke the tie at 5:54 of the second period after Colorado’s Milan Hejduk took a bad tripping penalty deep in the Flames end. Glencross drove to the net and Alex Tanguay’s pass hit him in the arm and caromed inside the left post.
"It kind of bounced up and hit me in the arm and went in," Glencross said. "It was kind of a nice one. I don’t know what it hit, but it hit me pretty hard and ricocheted in. I’ll take it."
Said Colorado’s Matt Duchene: "They got that bounce off the body. It was a good bounce for them. We just couldn’t get a similar bounce. It’s disappointing."
The Flames had gone 2-for-16 on power plays in their previous four games. The Avalanche have allowed nine power-play goals in the past seven contests.
Kiprusoff made a stop on Daniel Winnik’s point-blank shot off a feed from Ryan O’Reilly shortly after Glencross’ goal to keep his team in front.
"The puck was bouncing quite a bit and I couldn’t control rebounds, but our ‘D’ helped me out tonight," said Kiprusoff, who couldn’t answer why he and the Flames have managed to dominate the Avalanche. "We try to play the same way against every team."
The Flames were determined to respond in a positive fashion after Stastny scored in the opening minute. Stastny won a faceoff, skated into the slot and knocked in the rebound of defenseman Shane O’Brien’s point shot.
"They made a nice shot and it got by me," Glencross said. "We talked about not letting a goal like that happen because guys were going around us and going to the front of the net. It was sort of like my goal."
The win gave the Flames a 2-1-0 record on their three-game road trip and pulled them even for the season at 6-6-1.