Two points. That is the gap now between the Calgary Flames and the Colorado Avalanche for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. First the Flames got a huge helping hand from the Anaheim Ducks beating the Avalanche 5-2 behind Jason Blake’s 5 point effort, and a solid performance between the pipes from you guessed it… Flames castoff Curtis Mcelhinney! With that the door swung open and all the Flames had to do was get their foot in there with a win.
As the drop of the puck was coming, the Saddledome was rocking for the first time in quite a while. The first period was pretty defensive and had the feel of playoff hockey. Both Miikka Kiprusoff and Jason Labarbera were excellent making a couple tough stops each and with that the first period ended scoreless.
In the second period the Flames really controlled most of the play however it was Alexander Ovec….. errr Lee Stempniak who had the greatest chances for the Jets errr Coyotes his best coming in the slot where he ripped a wrister off the bottom of the crossbar that somehow stayed out. The Flames finally broke the drought with five minutes left in the period as Rene Bourque tipped in an Ian White point shot to make it 1-0 Flames. The Mikael Backlund showed some poise and character in the final seconds getting caught out on back to back icings the Coyotes would have tied it on a shot from Ovec errr Stempniak had Backlund not made a great block at the buzzer.
Into the third stanza, early it was again the Mikael Backlund show. This time making a great feed to Ales Kotalik (ya that Ales Kotalik) who ripped it five hole on Labarbera making the score 2-0. Of course the Flames decided that two goals would be plenty and went into their defensive shell and allowed the Coyotes to come in waves at them of course led by Alexander Ovec.. and Bobby Or…. Stempniak and Keith Yandle. Finally with seven minutes left AO errr Stempniak buried a cross crease pass from Wolski to make the score 2-1. Fortunately for Flames fans and my heart, that was as close as the Jets errr Coyotes would come thanks to some fine play by Miikka Kiprusoff.
So the stage is set. The Calgary Flames will march into Denver tomorrow night to take on the Avalanche. If the Flames win the gap is percentage points. If the Avs win the gap is likely too big to make up.
Have a good one!
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About the Author
Written by Shane Hoopfer
Die hard Flames fan since 1980, and a closet baseball junkie. Also a big Dolphins, and Stampeders fan!