Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward watches the puck enter the net during third period NHL action against the Calgary Flames in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CALGARY - Brendan Morrison made the most of some unexpected playing time with the Calgary Flames.
Morrison had two goals and two assists as the Flames scored more than five goals for the first time this season, beating the Carolina Hurricanes 7-6.
A healthy scratch for the past five games, Morrison was inserted into the Flames' lineup when Curtis Glencross was scratched with the flu.
"It's nice to come in and contribute, I'm not going to hide that," said the 36 year old. "But the main thing is we won the game."
Stepping into Glencross' spot on left-wing on a line with Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen, Morrison registered his first four-point game since he had four assists for the Vancouver Canucks in a game in Calgary on Dec. 23, 2005.
Iginla had two goals and an assist, including the winner into an empty net, and Jokinen had three assists.
Carolina backup Mike Murphy took the loss in his first NHL appearance despite not allowing a goal. He came on to relieve starter Cam Ward in the third period and stopped both shots he faced, but was the goalie of record when Iginla scored his winning goal.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Murphy is the first goalie in NHL history to record a loss before allowing a goal.
It has been a tough season for Morrison. Off-season knee surgery sidelined him to begin the season. After playing eight games and collecting no points, he went back on injured reserve with the knee still feeling unstable.
He missed seven games before returning to the lineup for a pair of games before being banished to the press box.
"It was impressive," Iginla said. "He's always around, helping out the young guys, and staying positive. It’s great to see him step in the line-up today and look great and feel great."
The Morrison-Jokinen-Iginla line, which combined 10 points, started strong on its first shift when Morrison set up Jokinen, who was robbed by Ward. On another close play right after, a near goal had to be reviewed by video replay.
Their next shift was just as good and more productive on the scoreboard, with Morrison and Jokinen combining to set up Iginla for his eighth goal.
"It helps a lot when you start the game with a shift like that," Morrison said. "You come back to the bench, you’re feeling good. You hold the puck a little bit longer, you make plays, instead of just getting it and getting rid of it. Those guys are obviously good hockey players, it’s pretty easy to step in and play with them."
Lee Stempniak, Rene Bourque and Mikael Backlund also scored for Calgary (12-13-2). The Flames are 4-1-1 in their last six games.
Eric Staal scored twice for Carolina (8-17-4), while Jiri Tlusty scored the Hurricanes first goal of the night on a penalty shot. Chad LaRose, Tuomo Ruutu and Tim Brent also scored.
The Hurricanes are winless in seven (0-6-1) and recently hired head coach Kirk Muller has lost his first four games behind the bench.
"We're going through a part of the schedule right now where it seems like every little miscue we make, comes right back to haunt us," Muller said. "We scored six, which shows the guys didn’t quit, they pushed each other. If we keep doing that, we’ll finally get out of this thing."
Calgary took a 3-0 lead 42 seconds into the second period when Morrison capped off a three-on-two rush, batting in a loose puck from the edge of the crease. Morrison’s second goal 1:22 into the third period put the Flames ahead 5-2.
Carolina mounted a comeback in the third period, scoring three times in the last seven minutes of the game. However, it was too little too late, with only five seconds remaining after Staal's second of the night at 19:55 narrowed the gap to one.
"We made too many mistakes and it cost us goals. We have to find a way to correct those mistakes and those bobbled pucks, and if it happens, fight for it, fight for each other," Staal said.
Trailing 3-0, Carolina finally got on the scoreboard at 5:39 of the second when Tlusty scored on a penalty shot. After Brent’s first goal in 18 games cut the deficit to one, Bourque stripped the puck from Derek Joslin and scored on a breakaway.
"That fourth goal was a killer on us tonight. But they had two choices–quit, or keep battling and they did," Muller said. "When you’re going through this, as long as they’re working hard and they’re attitude is in it, and they’re pushing each other, that's the groundwork that you have to keep building upon."
Ward was pulled in the third period after giving up Backlund's power-play goal at 10:57, which made it 6-3. Ward stopped 26 of 32 shots.
Backlund's goal was only the Flames third power-play goal at home this season and ended a 0-for-29 run with the extra man.
Notes: Carolina D Joni Pitkanen (upper body) left the game in the second period and did not return…With Calgary G Henrik Karlsson placed on the IR, Leland Irving, who was called up from Abbotsford (AHL) on Monday, dressed as the back-up. He wore jersey No. 37…Carolina also had a new back-up in uniform with Mike Murphy recalled from Charlotte (AHL) to replace Brian Boucher (lower body), who was injured Monday in practice…Kiprusoff had stopped the last five penalty shots dating back to Vernon Fiddler's goal for Nashville on Nov. 6, 2008…Calgary's last power play goal on home ice was scored by Bourque on Oct. 26 against Colorado.