Flames focus on victory against Oilers

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

CALGARY -- On a day in which bleary-eyed Flames spoke in soft tones, Alex Tanguay drew an interesting analogy to his team's situation.

"It's like Game 6 in a playoff series," started the philosophical winger on the eve of the team's third attempt to clinch a playoff spot over Colorado.

"We're up 3-2, playing in our home barn and we can close it out."

If not, he reasoned, they'll get another shot in a fictitious Game 7 tomorrow in Colorado.

While fine in theory, the reality is if the Flames lose to the Edmonton Oilers tonight the season is most likely lost.

Lose tonight and the Flames fly to Colorado where they'll arrive at the hotel in the wee hours and then face the NHL's hottest team in a building the Flames have long struggled in.

Assuming the Avs will beat a Nashville team that has nothing to play for tonight, the reeling Flames would enter the final game of the NHL's regular season schedule as massive underdogs against a well-rested squad that has one regulation loss in its last 17 outings.

It would be a daunting task no Calgary player or fan could be comfortable with, especially given Calgary's road woes all season.

"We want to close the door and not even think about a Game 7," Flames forward Craig Conroy said.

"We've got to get it done (tonight). We've got to come out tonight, win and put all this behind us. There's always pressure but definitely right now there's as much pressure as there has been all year. We all know what's at stake and everybody is maybe on edge. Everybody is focused on what we've got to do."

And that's win tonight.

"We've got to be a lot more desperate than we have been the last couple games," said Daymond Langkow, echoing yesterday's word of the day.

"There's probably nothing (the Oilers) would like better than to come in here and try to get a win."

With just one win in their last 10 visits to Calgary and absolutely nothing to lose in their final game of a horrific season, the Oilers are a wildcard. Despite their struggles, taking them lightly could be fatal.

How the Flames play the first five minutes tonight will say everything about how the team can handle the pressure.

Two weeks earlier they proved they can respond favourably when backed into a corner, reeling off six straight wins to keep the Avs at bay.

Still, Flames fans can't help but worry about th twist of fate that had Sunday's game originally slated for Dec. 21, when the Flames had won six of nine and the Avs were struggling.

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THE RACE

Western Conference standings

Pts GR

8. Calgary 96 2

9. Colorado 93 2

Tonight Nashville at Colorado, 9 p.m. Edmonton at Calgary, 10 p.m.

Tomorrow Calgary at Colorado, 9 p.m.


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