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Morrison leads Flames to wild win over 'Canes

by Aaron Vickers
CALGARY -- Calgary Flames veteran Brendan Morrison had a lot to be frustrated about.

Recovering from season-ending knee surgery this summer, Morrison was forced to miss September's training camp and the first four games of the 2011-12 season. Playing eight games that yielded no points, the 36-year-old forward was again placed on injured reserve for more rehabilitation. After returning for just two games in late November, Morrison was a healthy scratch for five more games.

Inserted on Calgary's top line for his first game since Nov. 25 on Tuesday night after Curtis Glencross fell ill with the flu, Morrison had two goals and a pair of assists to pace the Calgary Flames to a 7-6 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at Scotiabank Saddledome.

"Sometimes these things happen," Morrison said. "It's tough that Glennie was out, but when you get your number called you want to show the guys you're ready. I've put in the work here over the past however long it has been. I haven't played a whole lot of games here the last little while. I wanted to be sharp and keep it simple and make the right plays."

The loss extends Carolina's losing streak to six games – including four straight under new coach Kirk Muller -- and marks the 14th time this season the 'Canes have given up four or more goals in a game.

"No one is going to feel sorry for us," Muller said. "We scored six, which shows the guys didn't quit. They pushed each other. If they keep doing this, we'll get through this."

The Flames withstood a late-game barrage by the Hurricanes to secure the win. Carolina scored four goals in the final period -- including two in a span of 33 seconds in the final minute -- but fell one short.
Morrison's goal just 1:22 into the final period set the stage for an eventful third period that featured seven goals, including Jarome Iginla's second of the night into an empty net that eventually stood as the game-winner.

Streaking down the off the wing, Morrison threw the puck at the net. The puck hit defenseman Jamie McBain on the way to the net, deflected off the post and banked in off goaltender Cam Ward to make it 5-2.

McBain helped get the goal back at 6:41 after his point shot was redirected by Tuomo Ruutu past a screened Miikka Kiprusoff on a broken play to make it 5-3.

But Mikael Backlund put the finishing touches on Ward, chasing the Hurricanes netminder in favor of emergency call-up Mike Murphy. Backlund's goal at 10:57 was Calgary's first power-play goal at home since Oct. 26, snapping an 0-for-29 drought.

Eric Staal, with his sixth of the season at 13:42 off a Kiprusoff turnover behind the net, made it a 6-4 game.

After Iginla hit empty net with 1:08 remaining for his second of the night, goals by Chad LaRose at 19:28 and Staal's second at 19:55 were too little, too late.

Murphy is the first goalie in NHL history to record a loss before allowing a goal, per Elias Sports Bureau. He stopped the only two shots he faced in his NHL debut, but he became the goalie of record when Iginla's empty-netter turned into the game-winner.

"A little weird," Iginla said. "That's not the way we would've liked it. We obviously had a little bit of a letdown, but up until 1:10 being up 7-4 it was a good game. That was a blip, something we've definitely talked about and we don't want it to be that close at that point. It should be over, but it's still a very important win for us."

Though he was relieved in the third period, Ward weathered a strong Flames storm to start the game, including eight in the opening two minutes of the first period.

Iginla managed to break through Ward at 3:07 to make it 1-0 on Calgary's 10th shot. The Flames captain took a backdoor feed from Olli Jokinen for the 492nd goal of his career.

After a stretch where the Flames went 11 minutes without a shot, Tom Kostopoulos almost extended the Flames' lead to two. Playing in his first game against the Hurricanes since being dealt to the Flames last season, Kostopoulos beat Ward blocker side, but clanked the puck off the post with just over four minutes remaining in the period.

The iron was more forgiving to Calgary moments later.

Along the boards near the goal line, Jay Bouwmeester let go a backhand that found the outside of the post. Before Ward could smother the puck, Flames forward Blake Comeau poked it in front of the net for a waiting Lee Stempniak, who put it in the net with 1:09 remaining to give Calgary a 2-0 lead.

Morrison was on the receiving end of another misplay by McBain just 42 seconds into the second period for his first on the night. After McBain mishandled a rolling puck in the slot, Jokinen found Morrison on the doorstep of Ward, beating the Hurricanes' netminder to put the Flames up 3-0.

Jiri Tlusty got Carolina on the board at 5:39, scoring on a penalty shot after being hauled down by T.J. Brodie while on a partial breakaway. Tlusty deked backhand-to-forehand and lifted the puck over a sprawling Kiprusoff to make it 3-1.

The Hurricanes continued to push, making it a one-goal game at 13:16. After Kiprusoff stopped Staal's initial shot, but Flames defenseman Joe Piskula poked the puck into the slot and onto the stick of Tim Brent, who beat Kiprusoff to the blocker side to make it 3-2.

Rene Bourque answered back just 50 seconds later. After stripping the puck from Derek Joslin at the Flames' blue line, Bourque broke in on his off wing and snapped a shot between Ward's legs to restore the two-goal lead.

Bourque's goal was one the Hurricanes wouldn't recover from, according to Muller.

"I think that fourth goal was a killer on us tonight but they had two choices, quit or keep battling and they did," Muller said. "When you're going through this, as long as they're working hard and the attitude's in it and they're pushing each other, then that's the ground work you’ve got to keep building on."
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