Calgary Flames Craig Conroy celebrates his second goal of the night with Alex Tanguay (centre). L.A. goalie Sean Burke is seen skating away. (CP PHOTO/Larry MacDougal)
Conroy made a dramatic return to the Flames lineup Tuesday night, scoring twice against his former team to lead Calgary to a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Calgary re-acquired Conroy from Los Angeles on Monday in a trade for Jamie Lundmark and two draft picks.
Conroy, who was with the Flames from 2001 to 2004 before signing with the Kings as a free agent, was warmly greeted with applause from the Pengrowth Saddledome sellout of 19,289 as he took to the ice for the pre-game warmups. He received a loud cheer when he was shown on the Jumbotron during the Canadian national anthem.
Conroy then brought the capacity gathering to its feet when he knocked a rebound past Kings goalie Sean Burke just 1:30 into the second period to open the scoring.
"It surpassed all expectations," said Conroy, an instrumental part of Calgary's run to the Stanley Cup final in 2004. "It gave me goose bumps being out there on the ice.
"It was a lot of emotion for me."
Stephane Yelle and David Moss had the other goals for Calgary (27-17-6), which began a four-game homestand with its sixth consecutive victory on home ice.
Mike Cammalleri scored his 20th goal of the season for Los Angeles (17-30-6), which has just one win in its last 10 games (1-8-1).
"Obviously, we didn't want that to happen," said Cammalleri. "The guys that know him and we have a pretty personal relationship with Connie, we'd be happy for him if he did it against somebody else, but we don't want him doing that against us."
Centring Calgary's second line with veteran wingers Alex Tanguay and Tony Amonte, Conroy showed immediate chemistry with Tanguay, who set up both of Conroy's goals. The second came at 15:16 of the third and prompted another standing ovation from the Flames faithful.
"Just for my own confidence, I needed this," said Conroy, who entered the night with just six goals in 52 games after notching 22 goals the previous year.
"Tonight was the most I've played in three months," added Conroy, who logged 19 minutes 21 second of ice time, just 11 seconds off his season high. "In L.A., I wasn't killing any penalties, I wasn't really on the power play."
He appeared in all situations Tuesday night, including playing over a minute of a 1:29 Kings two-man advantage the Flames were able to kill off in the third while protecting a 2-1 lead.
"Confidence comes after hard work and for Connie, the change was refreshing for him and he was ready to work hard," said Calgary coach Jim Playfair. "Confidence is a funny thing, you can see it all over his face right now."
Moss put Calgary ahead 2-0 at 3:50 of the season, scoring his sixth goal in 18 games after deflecting Dion Phaneuf's wrist shot from the blue-line past Burke.
Cammalleri deflected Anze Kopitar's slapshot from the point on the power play to pull Los Angeles to within 2-1 just 1:35 into the third.
Los Angeles outshot the Flames 16-7 in the third but couldn't beat Miikka Kiprusoff, who made numerous great saves. Five of Kiprusoff's stops came during the two-man advantage.
"The one goal we scored was a screened shot, it's pretty tough to beat him otherwise," said Cammalleri. "To say he's good is an understatement, we all know that from watching him all year.
"He definitely did his job."
Yelle restored Calgary's two-goal lead, connecting at 14:04 of the third.
Notes: Conroy came into the contest having gone 12 games without a goal, a streak dating back to a Dec. 29 game against Calgary . . . If he stays healthy, Conroy could appear in 85 regular-season games, which would be the most in franchise history. Conroy already is one of only two Flames to have played in more than 82 games, appearing in 83 in 2000-'01, the season he was acquired from St. Louis. Marcus Nilson appeared in 83 games in 2003-'04 . . . Los Angeles outshot the Flames 36-33 . . . Calgary has gone 15 games without outshooting the opposition . . . Calgary RW Jarome Iginla is aiming for Friday night for his return to the lineup. The Flames captain has missed 11 games with a sprained knee . . . Forward Chuck Kobasew will be sidelined four weeks with a broken elbow.