Going for Wings

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

Get ready for a Wing Ding of a playoff party.

The Calgary Flames are going to the post-season and will square off with the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round.

The series schedule has yet to be announced.

Despite a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers last night in their regular-season home finale, the Flames had their playoff ticket punched for them.

They clinched the spot thanks to the Nashville Predators, who beat the Colorado Avalanche earlier in the night.

Still, nobody cared about backing into the playoffs.

"We put ourselves in this situation and deserve to be where we are," said centre Matthew Lombardi. "We worked hard all season.

"We came out strong, guys had good energy and we were excited in the room. We played well the first half of the game, we'll take that out of it and we'll move on to the next game."

Besides, pointed out centre Craig Conroy, disappointments from the regular season are meaningless once the playoffs begin.

"It starts fresh. It's all new playoff time and that's the way you've got to look at it," Conroy said.

"You look at what Edmonton did last year being the eighth seed and it's a fresh start for us.

"It's not easy to make the playoffs and now that we're in, we've got to look forward, put everything behind us and look at the positives."

If that's the case, they might as well put last night's outing in the round file.

Sure there were some positives for the Flames but not many from their performance before a sell-out crowd of 19,289.

They blew a lead and were beat by an Oilers team that came into the night with one victory in 19 outings.

Not exactly the type of effort they were hoping to put forth.

"At the end of the day, when you make the playoffs, you want to feel good about the game," said captain Jarome Iginla. "We want to win every game and we want to beat them. We were pushing, we were in control for half the game, and it got away from us."

They were in full control. Goals by Marcus Nilson and Tony Amonte had the Flames up by a pair, a lead deserved after controlling the clash through the first 30 minutes.

However, once it was announced the Flames had indeed advanced to the post-season, which drew a rousing ovation from the fans, they took their foot off the gas.

"That was when it kinda changed and everyone saw that," Conroy said.

"We talked about it, we wanted to win that game and for whatever reason, we gave them the powerplay. They got momentum, the powerplay gave them a big goal and all of a sudden they were right back in it, and that's what we didn't want to do. We gave them life and they took advantage."

Ales Hemsky started Edmonton's comeback with a powerplay goal that snapped his team's franchise record goal-scoring drought at 207 minutes and 44 seconds.

Ladislav Smid tied the game before the second period ended and Patrick Thoresen netted the third-period game-winner for the Oilers, who went from Stanley Cup finalists last spring to missing the playoffs with their 32-43-7 record.

Calgary (43-28-10) concludes its regular season tonight in Colorado against the Avs, a game that means nothing in the standings for either team.

"You want to go into Colorado and have a good game, build something positive," Conroy said.


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