Feel the heat
Flames beat Avs in first game under interim coach MacNeilPosted: Tuesday December 03, 2002 11:31 PM
Updated: Wednesday December 04, 2002 12:49 AM
Al MacNeil won his first game as interim coach for Calgary when the Flames got goals from Craig Conroy and Oleg Saprykin in a 2-1 victory over the Avalanche on Tuesday night.
Roman Turek stopped 30 shots for the Flames, who ended a four-game losing streak after firing head coach Greg Gilbert and assistant Brad McCrimmon before the team's morning skate.
"If you go around the room, every single guy probably feels responsible," Calgary forward Jarome Iginla said. "So there was a little rage that goes out in the game."
Turek, who had allowed 16 goals in the previous four games, made several spectacular saves in the first two periods before allowing a goal by Radim Vrbata with 3:17 left in the game.
Vrbata was credited with his seventh goal of the season after Turek made a stick save and the puck bounced off traffic into the net.
Turek also made a tough save on a backhander by Rob Blake in the closing seconds to give Calgary its second win in 13 games.
"It's unfortunate that guy loses his job, but it woke us up I guess," Calgary forward Chris Drury said. "It made us realize how serious the situation is and we needed to get a win. That was our best game in a long time."
Colorado, the league's worst team on the power play, was 0-for-4 to lose for the first time in five home games.
The Avalanche have scored just two goals in their last 26 chances with a man advantage, and heard boos from the home crowd during a power play in the third period.
"Our special teams are not getting the job done and we just need to remain focused, positive and keep working hard," Colorado defenseman Greg de Vries said. "It isn't easy, but we don't have any other choice."
Turek turned away two Colorado power plays in the first, stopping Adam Foote on a backhander the first time and a hard slap shot by Blake from between the circles in the second.
He opened the second period by stopping a shot by Blake with his armpit and stuffing Dean McAmmond from close range after he slipped around a Calgary defender.
Turek also made a spectacular glove save on a redirected shot by Milan Hejduk late in the period.
The Avalanche had several odd-man rushes in the first two periods, but the puck either bounced over their sticks or they weren't able to control the pass.
"We are proud as an organization, we are not happy with the way we are playing and not happy with the way we are collecting points right now," Colorado coach Bob Hartley said.
Saprykin opened the scoring 6:37 into the second period, one-timing a pass from Iginla for his first goal since April 7, 2001, against Los Angeles.
Iginla circled from behind Colorado's net and slipped a pass to Saprykin, who beat Patrick Roy's glove side from the right circle.
Conroy made it 2-0 with 1:53 left in the second on a power play.
Avalanche defenders blocked two shots before the puck squirted to the right circle to Conroy, who knocked in his seventh of the season before Roy could slide over.
"We have to remain very positive," said Roy, who faced 32 shots. "I have to remain positive. I don't want to lose my focus."
Drury and Stephane Yelle, back in Denver for the first time since being traded on Oct. 1, received a warm reception from the fans during introductions.
Notes: Morris got the better of a fight with Martin Gelinas midway through the second period, sending the Calgary defenseman reeling with a couple of right hands to the head. ... Colorado F Peter Forsberg missed his second straight game with a strained groin. ... The Avalanche also lost Foote to a groin injury in the second period.