Phaneuf Keeps Flames Hot on Road Trip

Saturday, December 15th 2007, 8:08 am
By: News On 6

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ Mike Keenan has seen his Calgary Flames stumble into each new city in the early morning hours. He's seen his players make mental mistakes brought on by wobbly legs and fatigued bodies. Yet, more than halfway through a tough six-game road trip, Keenan still hasn't seen his Flames lose.

The latest victory came Friday, when Dion Phaneuf scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period to help the Flames hold off the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Now the Flames are 4-0 on the trip so far, including Thursday night's win at Tampa Bay in a tough back-to-back set against the top teams in the Southeast Division.

``We've had a lot of travel and we've been getting in at 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the morning,'' said Flames coach Mike Keenan, who earned his 599th career victory. ``So you don't get much sleep, much rest. But we're a well-trained team, a fit team, and that's helped us. And you could see we had enough energy _ just barely enough tonight _ to get through it.''

The Flames opened the six-game stretch by winning at Chicago and beating Florida in a shootout before cruising by the Lightning 9-6. They close it by traveling to St. Louis and Columbus, a pair of teams ahead of them in the Western Conference.

``We've got to keep winning and move on,'' Phaneuf said.

In the other NHL games Friday night, it was: Buffalo 5, Washington 3; Toronto 4, Atlanta 0; and Minnesota 5, Anaheim 2.

Jarome Iginla, Kristian Huselius and Dustin Boyd also scored for the Flames, who hung in against a slumping team desperate for a win. Adrian Aucoin added two assists, while Miikka Kiprusoff finished with 33 saves.

Matt Cullen had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who continued their recent struggles despite outshooting Calgary 36-21.

The Hurricanes were already in a foul mood after Wednesday's 6-0 home loss to Ottawa, a performance that veteran defenseman Glen Wesley called ``unacceptable'' and ``embarrassing.'' Losing this one won't help, either.

Carolina _ which went 1-for-8 on the power play _ still leads the Southeast Division, but has lost seven of 10 games.

``I thought that the effort was good,'' Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. ``The results were obviously not good. We looked for chances. We hunted them, worked for them and obviously came up with the short end of the stick.

``Tonight we showed up and worked, but ... maybe you have to just dig a little more.''

The Flames never trailed because of a couple of opportunistic goals off Carolina turnovers for an early lead. Still, the Hurricanes hung around and tied it when Cullen weaved between two defenders on the power play and buried a shot past Kiprusoff to make it 3-all about 7 minutes into the third.

That's when Phaneuf came up with the winner, grabbing the puck when Matthew Lombardi won the faceoff and burying a low shot by Cam Ward for the lead at 11:48 of the third.

The Flames' penalty kill then came up with a pair of big stops in the final 6 minutes, preventing Carolina from getting a shot on the first power play then holding the Hurricanes to just two shots on the second.

``We found the way to get the winner,'' forward Owen Nolan said. ``We're finding ways to win games. It was a different feel than (Thursday) but it was still high scoring.''

Sabres 5, Capitals 3

Tim Connolly scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:42 left, backhanding a rebound past goalie Olie Kolzig to lift visiting Buffalo.

Jochen Hecht added an empty-netter with 1:14 to play for the final margin. Derek Roy, Maxim Afinogenov and Drew Stafford also scored for the Sabres.

Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Brooks Laich had Washington's goals.

Maple Leafs 4, Thrashers 0

Vesa Toskala stopped 24 shots and Toronto took advantage of more second-period success in the opener of its season-high seven-game road trip.

Toskala posted his second shutout of the season and eighth of his career. He improved to 6-1 in his past seven games and has not allowed more than two goals in any game during the stretch.

The Maple Leafs, who lead the NHL with 44 second-period goals, got goals from Boyd Devereaux and Mats Sundin in the period following a scoreless opening 20 minutes. Toronto put the game away with two goals by Alexei Ponikarovsky late in the third.

Wild 5, Ducks 2

Brian Rolston had a goal and two assists, and visiting Minnesota snapped out of a scoring slump.

Aaron Voros and Brent Burns each chipped in with a goal and an assist. Marian Gaborik and Eric Belanger also scored for the Wild, who piled up a 5-0 lead with four power-play goals in the second period.

Minnesota's Josh Harding stopped 28 shots, giving up late goals to Brad May and Todd Bertuzzi.

Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere gave up three goals on nine shots before Jonas Hiller replaced him at 13:15 of the second period. Hiller finished with eight saves.