CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Dion Phaneuf has really hit the big
time. Even Wayne Gretzky is impressed with Calgary's rookie
Phaneuf scored his 19th goal of the season and added an assist
in the Flames' 5-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday
night. Then drew praise from The Great One.
"I thought he was really solid for them," the Coyotes coach
said. "He's a tremendous hockey player.
"He's physical, he's got tremendous presence on the ice and he
moves the puck well. He's going to have a long career in this game
and he's going to be a force for a long time."
Flames captain Jarome Iginla continues to be impressed with the
play of his young teammate.
"He's had a tremendous year for us," Iginla said. "It's not
just his goals, it's physically he's led our power play, which has
gotten better because of him.
"All the way around, he's been very impressive."
Phaneuf's first-period, power-play tally put the Flames up 1-0
and broke the Calgary club record for rookie defensemen of 18 goals
set in 1985-86 by Gary Suter.
"It's definitely an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence
as Gary Suter," Phaneuf said. "But you can't have individual
success without the help of your teammates.
"The forwards work hard night in, night out, screening the
goaltender for us defensemen to get the pucks through."
"He's in some very good company," said Iginla, who scored his
Shean Donovan also scored for the Flames, who have a five-point
lead atop the Northwest Division over Colorado.
"We anticipated a lot better out of ourselves over these two
games here in Alberta because we really had been playing really
well as a team," Gretzky said.
The Flames opened the scoring late in the first on Phaneuf's
shot past goalie Philippe Sauve, who was making his second start
for the Coyotes since being acquired from Calgary at the trade
Sauve was solid, stopping 17 of 18 shots in the opening period
and 32 overall.
"He fought his rear end off today, I thought," Gretzky said.
"I was happy for him.
"He's come in and he's been good in our room. He works hard
every day. He hasn't complained about not playing. He just shows up
every day and works hard."
The Flames continued with pressure in the second and built a
two-goal lead when Iginla scored on another power play.
Later in the period, Yelle tipped a point shot by Phaneuf past
Sauve to make it 3-0. It was Yelle's first goal in 34 games.
"I'm a defensive player but I want to chip in more offensively
and when it drags on like that, it takes a lot out of you," Yelle
said. "It's good to chip in, and we need to keep that up the last
six games of the season."
Doan scored for Phoenix on a power play, firing a shot past
Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff.
"They've got a pretty good defensive team and Kiprusoff made
some huge saves when it was 3-1," Doan said.
With 10.9 seconds left in the second, Yelle backhanded a pass
from behind the net onto the stick of Donovan, who fired a high
shot past Sauve.
"They never give up and they never stop," Gretzky said. "They
kept coming at us and they scored with 10 seconds left and that was
In the third, Sanderson fired a slap shot past Kiprusoff with
Phoenix on a two-man advantage. But Huselius rounded out the
scoring when he converted a pass from Langkow and put it past
Kiprusoff finished with 24 saves for his club record-tying 39th
win of the season. Mike Vernon also won 39 during the 1987-88
Defenseman Jordan Leopold returned to the Flames lineup
after missing three games with a groin injury. ... After going
scoreless in his first four outings with the Coyotes, Former Flames
C Steve Reinprecht has put up 11 goals and nine assists in 18
contests. He was chosen as the NHL's offensive player of the week
on Monday after scoring five goals and adding two assists in three