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Flames overcome an early deficit to top Leafs

by Todd Kimberley
CALGARY – The Calgary Flames hosted Retro Night on Saturday. The Toronto Maple Leafs probably wish they could take back about a minute's worth of history.

The Flames scored twice in 52 seconds midway through the second period to overcome an early deficit on the way to a 3-1 win over the Leafs before the usual sellout crowd of 19,289 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Curtis Glencross scored two of Calgary's goals, including an empty-netter with 50.8 seconds left.

"That was a great momentum changer," said Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, who recorded a goal and two assists. "The crowd got into it. And from there, we played a really good game.

"Off the start, we weren't creating a lot, but we didn't open it up. The last few games, we've been changing our mentality, trying to play pucks off the net. Because of it, we're playing a lot more in the offensive zone than we have been. Tonight, even though it was a little bit choppy, we had the right mentality."

The Flames (24-12-5) have won four straight, including three in a row at the Saddledome, where they're now 12-7-2. The Leafs (14-19-9), meanwhile, have dropped five of six and seven of their past nine.

"We didn't win any battles for loose pucks," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "The other team's working hard, and desperate, and if you're not as desperate as they are on the power play, you're not going to be very effective."

The Flames were playing their fifth game in seven nights, and the Leafs knew that very well, but couldn't capitalize.

"Yeah, that's what our game plan was. I think we got off to a pretty good start, and I think defensively in the first, we didn't give up too much. We played solid, we were physical, we got in on the forecheck," Toronto defenseman Francois Beauchemin said.

"(Calgary's) two quick goals changed things really fast. We tried to stay with it, but we couldn't really generate much offense. You've got to give them credit too. They were getting in the shooting lanes a lot, putting sticks on pucks, and (Miikka) Kiprusoff made some key saves at the end there."

The Flames remain a point back of the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Northwest Division, with two games in hand. The Avs (24-13-6) defeated the Blue Jackets 3-2 in Columbus on Saturday night.

Iginla engineered both of Saturday's second-period goals, tallying his team-leading 21st goal of the season at 10:35 and then picking up his 19th assist of the campaign at 11:27.

Iginla bumped into Toronto's Mike Komisarek just as the hulking defenseman was accepting a pass, and the pair fell in a heap 40 feet in front of the net. The collision gave Calgary's Daymond Langkow open ice in front of Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson, and the rebound of his shot flew into the air and bounced in the crease.

Nigel Dawes was unable to bang in the rebound. But Iginla, following up on the play, buried the puck to tie the score 1-1.

"I had my head down, and we just kind of fell over each other," said Iginla, who celebrated his fifth three-point night of the season, and first since Dec. 19. "I didn't know where the puck went. ‘Lanks' got a good shot off (Gustavsson's) shoulder. The puck was bouncing … it was kind of like a gift, just sitting right there."

Less than a minute later, with Toronto's Alexei Ponikarovsky serving a goaltender interference penalty, Iginla fed Glencross in the left circle. Glencross's shot glanced off the shaft of Luke Schenn's stick and found room under Gustavsson's right arm for a 2-1 Calgary advantage.

"Those things happen. You've got to give credit to the Flames. They played pretty well," said Wilson, whose team remains mired in 14th place in the Eastern Conference. "We had some great scoring opportunities, we just didn't find the net. And Kipper made a lot of good saves when he needed to."

Gustavsson was the busier of Saturday's two goaltenders, facing 34 shots in all, including 18 in the second period. The Leafs fired 25 Kiprusoff's way.

"I really felt, even in the first, that we had some decent opportunities. We just had to do more things around the net, try and create a little more in the offensive zone," Calgary coach Brent Sutter said. "In the second period, we did a good job of directing pucks to the net and we did a good job of creating some traffic.

"And we stood tall in the third."

Jason Blake's individual effort at 3:36 of the first period allowed the Leafs to score the game's first goal for only the 13th time this season.

The native of Moorhead, Minn., stepped out of the left corner against defenseman Aaron Johnson. The rebound of his shot was launched into the air, landed on the left skate of a kneeling Kiprusoff and dribbled into the net.

The Flames now go on the road for a two-game trek through Nashville and St. Paul on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the Leafs head home for a Tuesday game at the Air Canada Centre against Florida.

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