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Flames extend home winning streak to 7 games

The SportsXchange

CALGARY -- Home is where the winning happens for the Calgary Flames.

When the Flames are in the friendly confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome, things have gone their way lately.

The St. Louis Blues found that out the hard way Sunday night, as the visitors outshot the Flames 38-17, but a fortunate bounce for Calgary captain Jarome Iginla was the difference in a 3-2 win -- a seventh straight on home ice for the Flames.

After getting stopped on a partial breakaway, Iginla wheeled around with the rebound and forced it through Jaroslav Halak at 12:58 of the third period. It wasn't pretty, but it stood up as the game-winner.

The goal was Iginla's ninth this season and 525th of his career, all with the Flames. But with growing trade rumors, the longtime Flames star could have that goal as one of his last highlights in a Calgary jersey.

"They were pretty much outplaying us for two periods pretty strongly," said Iginla, who didn't want to add to trade speculation by answering questions about the rumors. "We had a good third period. It really helped that (goalie Miikka Kiprusoff) was standing on his head. St. Louis was playing really well. They are a good team.

"We weren't feeling too good about ourselves this past week, so this is an important win to get the ball rolling in the right direction."

Although the Flames (12-14-4) have a long streak of winning at home, they have lost nine straight on the road. They will try to break that skid Tuesday in Chicago against the Blackhawks.

The Blues (17-12-2) return home Tuesday to face the Edmonton Oilers, a team they shut out Saturday night on the road.

Down 2-1 after two periods, the Blues tied it up early in the third period when Andy McDonald threw the puck on net and Vladimir Sobotka poked it through Kiprusoff, who had been stellar to that point.

"I just battled in front and tapped it in the net," Sobotka said. "We had a lot of shots, and we couldn't execute and put the puck in. This can't happen."

First-year forward Roman Cervenka opened the scoring for the Flames on the power play, breaking into the Blues zone on his off wing and ripping a wrist shot to the top corner past Halak.

Cervenka made it 2-0 midway through the second period on another top-corner shot. Getting the puck down low in the Blues zone, Cervenka made a nifty move to get in front of the crease, then went to his backhand to lift the puck over a sprawled Halak.

"He's been creating chances by holding the puck a bit longer," Iginla said about Cervenka, a Czech Republic native who doesn't speak English. "A big part of this game is confidence. You could see his coming.

"It was a great shot on the first goal and great waiting on the second goal. He's been pushing himself hard. He wants to produce more, and you can see it's starting to come for him."

The Blues finally cracked the wall of Kiprusoff on their 24th shot of the contest late in the second period.

After stepping out of the penalty box, Blues center T.J. Oshie picked the pocket of Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman, scooped up the loose puck and fired a shot that Kiprusoff only got a piece before it trickled through him.

The Blues, who are tied for sixth in the Western Conference, had a few outstanding chances throughout, but their biggest came late in the game when defenseman Wade Redden's point blast rang off the iron.

"Give them credit," McDonald said. "They played hard. Our effort wasn't where it needed to be.

"We're struggling to find consistency. For whatever reason, we can't put games together -- a lot of positives, but just not enough.

"If we want to get into the playoffs and do well, we have to find a way to play a consistent game. It's got to improve. Everyone's got high expectations. It's frustrating."

For Kiprusoff, who came into the contest with an .866 save percentage after allowing five goals in each of the past two road outings, this was a big performance.

Now the Flames just need to figure out how to take the bounces on the road with them.

"It's hard to tell," Kiprusoff said when asked to explain Calgary's road difficulties. "If we knew something, we would do something on the road. We know we have to change it. We can't lose any more of those road games. We have a pretty good (opponent) in the next game.

"It's a mental thing. We feel good at home because we have good fans here. You need to be able to win road games if you want to make the playoffs in this league."

NOTES: Halak got the start for the second straight night after not seeing the ice for four straight prior to Saturday's victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Halak recorded his 16th career shutout for the Blues in that win, tying Glenn Hall for the franchise record. ... For the first time since he was acquired Feb. 28, enforcer Brian McGrattan didn't suit up for the Flames. In 12 games, McGrattan has no points but 27 minutes in penalties and is a minus-5. ... It took 9:53 for the Flames to register their first shot on goal. ... Prior to Cervenka's first-period power-play goal, the Blues' penalty kill was perfect in four games and 10 chances. ... The Blues dominated the play in the second period, outshooting the Flames 19-4.

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