Flames top road-weary Coyotes

Ian Busby, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CALGARY, Alberta -- Goaltender Kari Ramo made 29 saves and defenseman Mark Giordano scored a goal and added an assist in his return to the lineup as the Calgary Flames beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-1 Wednesday night at the Saddledome.
The Flames also got their league-leading sixth short-handed goal -- scored by right winger Lee Stempniak on a beautiful two-on-one feed from center Matt Stajan -- and improve to 10-13-4 on the season by ending the Coyotes' two-game road win streak.
The Coyotes (16-8-4) looked to be a little road weary after beating the Edmonton Oilers 6-2 Tuesday night up the highway in Alberta, and they couldn't capitalize after defenseman Keith Yandle opened the scoring less than five minutes in.
The Flames took control in the second period, but the rally really started in the final seconds of the opening frame.
With the clocking winding down, Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie took a pass in the Coyotes zone, hesitated as defender David Schlemko went down to block, then fired through the crouching blue-liner. The puck bounced off Schlemko and past Coyotes goaltender Thomas Greiss with just eight second left in the period.
The Flames took a 2-1 lead early in the second. Center Mikael Backlund took a cross-ice pass from left-winger Jiri Hudler and the Swede's one-timer went over Greiss' right shoulder to the top of the cage.
Calgary built a 3-1 edge at 11:46 of the second period thanks to a huge shot from captain Giordano, who returned to action after missing 18 games with a broken ankle. The power-play goal was the captain's third of the season in just nine games.
Stempniak scored the only goal of the third period, his fifth goal of the season, to make it 4-1.
The Coyotes got on the board first thanks to an impressive shift in which they had the Flames flailing around in their own zone for about a minute of action.
Eventually, Coyotes right winger Shane Doan knocked Flames defenseman Chris Butler to the ground on an attempted body-check before wheeling around the net to find Yandle pinching in from the point.
Yandle ripped a wrist shot -- that deflected off Butler -- past Ramo for his third goal of the season. The Coyotes came into the night with a 12-1-1 record when scoring the first goal, while the Flames were a meagre 4-10-3 when their opponent scored first.
NOTES: Flames D Mark Giordano returned to the lineup after missing 18 games with a broken ankle. The Flames went 5-11-2 without their first-year captain in the lineup. Giordano scored his third goal of the season in the second period. ... Before the game, the Flames honored the military with their eighth annual Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night. ... The Coyotes held the Flames off the shot clock until 11:09 was gone in the first period. ... Flames G Kari Ramo earned a second straight start by backstopping the team to a 2-1 victory Saturday night in Los Angeles. It was Ramo's first back-to-back starts since Oct. 26 and Oct. 30. ... By allowing a tying goal with eight seconds left in the first period, the Coyotes didn't get a chance to improve on their 10-0-0 record when leading after one frame. ... Coyotes G Thomas Greiss made his fifth start of the season but second in four games. He picked up a win Nov. 27 against the Minnesota Wild.

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