As heartbreaking losses go for the Minnesota Wild in this house of horrors, Thursday night's barnburner with the Flames was rather moderate.
The Wild did not melt down under the stress of a third-period onslaught as they did six weeks ago. They were not dominated for dizzying stretches by Calgary's merry band of forecheckers.
No, the Wild battled, they skated and they created enough offense to win twice over. Make no mistake, though: Minnesota is several strides behind the defending Western Conference champions, who found a way to win a tight game the way deep and experienced teams should.
The Flames broke open a tie game with two goals in the third period to hammer out a 4-2 victory in front of 19,289 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Steve Reinprecht scored midway through the third, and former Wild winger Jason Wiemer provided the backbreaker with 3:34 remaining as Calgary halted the Wild's winning streak at three games.
Robyn Regehr roared in from the blue line, picked up a loose puck along the boards and snapped a shot that Reinprecht tipped past Dwayne Roloson to the short side. Wiemer beat Roloson to the far side. Roloson, 1-8 over his past nine starts, would love to have both goals back.
The Flames improved to 8-2-3 at home against the Wild.
Roloson suffered through the Wild's third-period collapse November 14 at the Saddledome. The Flames vaporized a tenuous two-goal lead with 25 shots to emerge with a 3-2 victory that left Roloson and coach Jacques Lemaire seething.
These are the two stingiest defensive teams in the Western Conference, and neither strayed from its roots in a choppy first period that featured nine shots apiece and promised a long slog the rest of the way.
The Flames started with two hard-charging shifts that produced five shots before Marc Chouinard managed the Wild's first shot, a harmless snapper from the right wing. By then, 7:09 had elapsed since the opening faceoff.
Tony Amonte had the best scoring chance midway through the period. Jarome Iginla roped a centering pass that Amonte redirected with a backhand that clipped the far-side post before Roloson could react.
That was enough of the conservative serve-and-volley stare down, though, as the second period morphed into a rip-roaring ride full of snarling end-to-end rushes and more excitement than the Wild and Oilers mustered in two methodical games earlier in the trip.
The teams combined for four goals and 29 shots on goal, two more shots clanked goal posts and a penalty shot to emerge knotted 2-2.
It was finally a meaningful homecoming action-starved winger Kyle Wanvig, who triumphantly returned to the lineup and scored his first goal in 17 games after being banished for the previous 10.
His score was nothing fancy, either. He rifled a shot from a sharp angle that bounced off Daymond Langkow's skate 1:20 into the period to spark the offensive blitz.
Pittsburgh 6, New Jersey 2
Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, Rookie Sidney Crosby scored a pair of goals and set up another to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Mellon Arena on Thursday, the win snapping a six-game losing streak.
Overlooked for a spot on Canada's Olympic squad for the Turin Winter Games, Crosby might be giving selectors second thoughts after recording his second two-goal game in three contests.
Tomas Surovy also netted a pair for the Penguins and Ric Jackman and Mark Recchi added singles to help give Michel Therrien his first win since taking over for as coach for Eddie Olczyk, who was sacked two weeks ago.
Scott Gomez tallied twice for the struggling Devils, who have lost four of their last five games.
Pittsburgh got the contest off to a storming start and led 2-0 after the first period on goals from Jackman and Crosby.
In other NHL action:
Philadelphia 4, Carolina 3 (OT); Toronto 4, Buffalo 3 (o.p.); Dallas 3, St. Louis 0; Phoenix 6, Los Angeles 5 (OT).