CALGARY - Calgary's slumbering offence finally awoke Friday night.
Daymond Langkow's first goal in 22 games opened the floodgates as the Calgary Flames beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3. Early in the second period, Langkow scored Calgary's first goal in over 107 minutes, kick-starting a run of three unanswered second-period goals.
"For whatever reason, we've struggled at home to score goals. It was nice to get five tonight," said Langkow. "That's the way we've got to play every night, with that same emotion and intensity."
Flames winger Chris Higgins showed his strength controlling the puck deep in the Devils end, fending off Travis Zajac before centring to Langkow in the slot, who slid a backhand through the pads of Martin Brodeur with his back to the net.
With just 12 goals this year after seven straight seasons with 20 or more, Langkow's struggles reflect those of the entire team. Calgary entered the night 29th in the league in goals scored, ahead of only the Boston Bruins.
"Obviously you're thinking about it. Especially when you're losing," said Langkow. "You feel like you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing out there and then maybe you change your game a little bit and it just gets worse."
Brent Sutter hopes this will alleviate the pressure on his veteran centre.
"It gets to be a burden on a player. They're human beings and it's something that weighs on you. As difficult as it is, you have to stay focused on other parts of your game so it doesn't affect other parts of your game," Sutter said. "It's something that I'm sure, deep down, he's relieved to have it over with."
A few minutes after Langkow's goal, Curtis Glencross stripped the puck from Ilya Kovalchuk at the blue-line and gave Calgary the lead on a short-handed breakaway, going top-corner over Brodeur's glove.
"That's one of my go-to moves, one I'm confident with. Get a quick shot off like that and surprise the goalie before they get set," Glencross said.
Kovalchuk accepted the blame on the play saying he tried to get too fancy with the puck.
"He made a good play and I made a bad play," said Kovalchuk. "I have to keep it a little simpler than that, especially when it's a 1-1 tie."
Glencross also had a hand in the third goal as his heavy check on defenceman Andy Greene knocked the puck loose where it was picked up by Eric Nystrom, who drove hard across the top of the crease, nearly mishandling the puck before desperately swatting it past Brodeur as he spun to the ice.
Nystrom's seventh goal of the season was just his second in 46 games.
"You definitely squeeze the stick a little tight and start thinking a little too much," Nystrom said. "You have to have fun and you have to try stuff out there. There was a stretch where nobody was really trying to make any plays and we've been saying, just try some stuff. Be creative, if you turn it over, make sure you get back and make sure it's at the right time.
"We get into robot mode sometimes and there's just too much skill in here to be playing like that."
Matt Stajan and David Moss also scored for Calgary (31-24-9). The win keeps the Flames one point back of the Detroit Red Wings, who hold down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Flames win for just the fourth time in their last 13 games at the Pengrowth Saddledome (4-8-1).
Zach Parise scored his 29th and 30th goals to lead the way for New Jersey (38-22-3). Kovalchuk also scored for the Devils, who blew a chance to move past Pittsburgh into top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Brodeur finished with 20 saves in a self-admitted off night.
"I was fighting it tonight. They were able to pick up some garbage goals," said the veteran goaltender. "It doesn't happen often but lately, the pucks definitely not hitting me. That last goal, Stajan fans on it, it still goes through everything and goes through my legs."
New Jersey, which falls to 2-9-1 in its last 12 road games, wraps up its three-game road trip Sunday night in Edmonton.
"It's disappointing," said Devils coach Jacques Lemaire. "It's a game in which we knew how they would play. That is their game. A hard-working team and you have to work harder, that's all."
The Devils scored twice in the last five minutes but could get no closer.
"I wouldn't say it was a bad game but let's say we can play a lot better," said Lemaire.
Notes: It was Higgins' first point as a Flame... Amongst the Flames four healthy scratches were C Craig Conroy and LW Nigel Dawes. Conroy has just two goals on the season while Dawes has no goals in his last 18 games... New Jersey trade deadline acquisition Martin Skoula has yet to join the team as stays with his wife, who is about to give birth... It was just the second time since Nov. 30 the Flames have scored more than four goals... Calgary is 9-2-1 when Langkow scores.