Wasn't pretty, but it'll do

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

They picked up two points and now sit just two points back of Detroit.

Just four back of Colorado.

But go ahead and try to convince any of the poor souls who paid to be at the Dome last night that progress was made by the hometown Flames.

I dare ya.

This one was uglier than Tim Hunter making out with Roseanne Barr.

Things were so bad Cotton Eyed Joe might have been the highlight of the evening, right behind the final horn.

However, don't think for one second the Flames care about how they went about inching closer to playoff contention last night.

Asked about the boring nature of a 3-1 win over Anaheim, Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr shrugged as if to suggest it's the last thing on his mind.

"Over the course of an 82-game schedule they're not all going to be pretty," said Regehr, whose club embarks on a three-game eastern swing starting tomorrow on Long Island.

"It's never a perfect game, but tonight all of our guys were above average and as long as that's the case we're going to be in a position to win games."

To the most casual of fans, Tuesday's game might have looked like one of the Flames' more uninspiring efforts of the year.

At many times, including early on, it was hard to believe they still believe.

Even though all that separates them from an eighth-place tie is a pair of last-second goals scored recently by the surging Wings, the Flames sure seemed to lack the hunger or the confidence to complete a playoff mission few in this city deem likely.

However, the feeling in the room afterwards was that this club followed the game plan well against a Ducks squad starting to nip at Calgary's heels.

"We didn't do everything well but we did enough to win and that's all that matters," said Niklas Hagman, who was dangerous around the Ducks net all night.

"We didn't turn over many pucks, we didn't take many penalties and we shut down their top line," added Rene Bourque.

"The start wasn't the best, but we settled down and won."

For two teams that have long hated one another Tuesday's game provided the same sort of intensity you'd expect from Game 3 of the season, not a stretch run.

Even the officials weren't into it, whistling just two minors on the night.

Yes, during the day they've been saying all the right things -- they have no choice.

But once the puck drops they too often respond with the type of start that saw the lads stuck in a 1-1 tie late in the second until Bourque converted a breakaway gift from Corey Perry.

Prior to that, the Flames were only in it thanks to a fluky Nigel Dawes goal that saw a knee-high Steve Staios pass ricochet in past Jonas Hiller.

Yes, Brett Sutter made the most of his Abbotsford call up with a spirited fight at the two minute mark, and Jarome Iginla's quiet night included nice setups on the Flames final two goals.

And give them all credit for a third period in which they employed some semblance of a forecheck to preserve the win.

But taking more than 30 minutes to rise to the occasion -- and pass on a chance to really take it to the visitors from the get-go -- isn't what playoff-bound teams do when given the chance.

For a team that still insists it hasn't given up on overcoming a murderous schedule to play this spring, the Calgary Flames sure have a funny way of showing it.

Their measly two-point deficit (albeit with one extra game played and only nine remaining) betrays the doubt most Calgarians have these days.

And those who haven't given up, may very well have fallen asleep last night.

Not that the Flames care or mind one bit.

ERIC.FRANCIS@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos