CALGARY --There was no point in playing dumb. Nigel Dawes knew better than anyone in the victorious Calgary Flames locker room that he hadn't scored in a month.
"Has it been a while?" Dawes asked a reporter with a big grin. "Oh, you're counting, eh? I think it was only 12 (games). Today would have been 13."
True enough. Dawes, a third-year forward, ended a 12-game personal goalless streak Wednesday night, notching the winner with 5:44 remaining as the Flames edged the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 before 19,289 fans at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Dawes, stationed in the left circle, took a brilliant no-look feed from David Moss behind the net and buried a wrist shot this hit the shoulder of Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov and flew into the top corner of the net.
The win brought the Flames (14-6-3) within a point of the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Northwest Division, and ended a futile stretch at home, which had seen them drop four of the previous five games on Saddledome ice.
"Obviously, when you're in a little bit of a slump, it's nice to get that one," said Dawes, who hadn't scored since a two-goal performance against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 24. "I hadn't been getting to the areas I needed to. There have been times I've been making plays, and setting up goals, but I've got to get close to the net, because that's where I'm going to have my success and score my goals.
"When I'm playing off the perimeter, you see the results, and I was doing that for too long," added Dawes. "It's nice to get one."
Calgary had dropped three of its past four meetings with Phoenix on home ice. The Flames now embark on their longest road trip of the season, a six-game trek that begins Friday night in Detroit.
Meanwhile, the Coyotes (13-11-1) lost both games in a quick trip through Alberta. finished up a brief two-game Northwest Division road trip with an 0-2 record .After a 4-0 loss at Edmonton on Monday, they were also very nearly 0-for-Alberta in the goal-scoring department, too.
Defenseman Keith Yandle tied the game 1-1 at 10:30 of the third period by ripping a 40-footer over Miikka Kiprusoff's glove with defenseman Mark Giordano in the penalty box on a delay-of-game call.
"Absolutely no positive to take out of that. We had chances and opportunities, and we didn't take advantage," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "We're not scoring goals; I don't know what it is. It's not fair to our goaltender. We have to be a lot better."
Kiprusoff earned his 13th win of the season by turning aside 27 shots. Bryzgalov, who'd entered the game with the NHL's third-best goals-against average at 2.14, made 24 saves.
Kiprusoff stood tall in the waning minutes to preserve the win, sticking out a pad to stop Peter Mueller from the right wing and then making another pad save on Doan's rebound.
"Very disappointed. We know the quality of team that they are, but we didn't play our game. I think we let points slip away," Phoenix defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. "We're not a team that's going to score the pretty ones. We've got to work harder. We need to be smarter and more poised with the puck."
Flames captain Jarome Iginla and linemate Olli Jokinen both saw their five-game point streaks halted. But more importantly, the hosts are beginning to round into form, according to coach Brent Sutter, who saw his club improve to 7-5-0 on home ice.
"Whenever you win like we did tonight - come home, play one game, go back on the road - it was a big game for us. And to find a way to win it was huge," said Sutter. "We're not worried about style points. In terms of the way we want to be, I think over the last three games it's started to sort itself out. We've just been a better team the past three games. We really have.
"We've taken strides toward . . . the way we need to play, being responsible defensively. We played hard here for 60 minutes tonight; we had a good effort from everyone. We're a team that's got to skate, play north-south hockey, finish checks, and be assertive. If we don't, we end up watching too much."
Flames center Daymond Langkow opened the scoring at 17:20 of the second period. Langkow raced onto the ice to replace Craig Conroy, who broke his stick behind the Phoenix net, dashed up the left side and took a cross-ice feed from Curtis Glencross before burying the puck between Bryzgalov's pads.
"(Conroy) busted his stick and came off," said Langkow, who also drew a second assist on Dawes' winner. "As soon as I got on the ice, they turned it over. (Glencross) grabbed the puck, so I just went to the net. My one-timer .. barely touched the back of the net, but it was just enough to get it in."
Coyotes defensemen Ed Jovanovski and Zbynek Michalek played Wednesday night, after being activated off injury reserve earlier in the day.