The Calgary Flames have moved within 2 points of the Colorado Avalanche thanks to a 2-1 win against Phoenix tonight, while the Avs lost 5-2 to Anaheim. Tonight’s action sets the stage for a huge Friday game between Calgary and Colorado in Denver on Friday.
The Flames started the game slowly with a lackluster first period, but picked up speed in the 2nd period and took a 1-0 lead when Ian White’s shot bounced off Rene Bourque’s foot into the net. They played their best hockey during the last 5 minutes of the 2nd period, but couldn’t beat Coyotes’ goalie Jason LaBarbera.
The Flames added one more goal from Ales Kotalik early in the 3rd, and it turned out to be the game winner. Phoenix scored ten minutes later to make it close, but the Flames stayed ahead thanks to some awesome goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff.
Kipper was definitely the best player on the Flames tonight. He bailed them out several times, and stopped 29 of 30 shots including 13 in the 3rd period. Two other players that stood out from the crowd were 21 year old Mikael Backlund and the ever-steady Rene Bourque. Backlund notched his 3rd point in the last 2 games with the assist on Kotalik’s game-winning goal. He was also one of the few Flames players that consistently played like he wanted the puck every time he was on the ice. In addition to scoring the opening goal, Bourque had a couple other good chances and played a responsible game. He was solid in the neutral zone, and always seemed capable of skating the puck out of his own end when the Flames needed to get it out. The Flames could have used a bit more of that late in the game. That, or another goal…
Though Colorado has been losing more games than they have been winning lately, it didn’t appear as though the Flames were getting any help until tonight. The combination of a Calgary win and a Colorado loss now sets the teams only 2 points apart in the race for 8th place in the West. Colorado still has one game at hand over the Flames, so to say that Friday’s 2 points are important it a gross understatement. We all know that the Flames need to win every one of their final 5 games to have a hope of making the playoffs. The dream is not dead yet, and if the Flames win a few more games, the fans here may just start believing again.