SUN Hockey Pool

Tank-job tough to forget

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Shouldering a heavy burden of blame in many eyes after Monday's dismantling at the hands of the San Jose Sharks is winger Alex Tanguay.

He was the first to admit his gaffe cost the Calgary Flames a goal at a critical moment on the powerplay, when his fanned pass intended for Dion Phaneuf at the blueline was picked off and taken the distance by Milan Michalek to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead.

It may not be what the fans want to hear in the hours following an embarrassing loss at the Saddledome, but Tanguay says it wasn't the first mistake he's made and surely won't be the last.

"You make mistakes every game. Everybody does. It's just that last night the mistake I made cost us a goal and might have cost us the game," said the straight-shooting star, who wasn't the only one to have an off night.

"I'm sure I'll make some more mistakes this year that'll cost goals, so I'm not gonna dwell on it. We're all going to make mistakes 'til the end of the year that are gonna end up in the back of our net.

"I went to Kipper and told him I was sorry, and he told me to forget about it, so that's what I'll do."

The rest of the team would like to forget the entire lacklustre effort, knowing they have an equally tough task ahead of them tonight when the division leading Minnesota Wild put their 7-0-1 record on the line at the 'Dome.

Asked if they can draw any positives from the pasting, Flames captain Jarome Iginla -- normally the poster boy for optimism -- struggled to find an angle.

"I don't know," he said. "You want to learn from everything, but it was almost that bad that you're close to wanting to just forget it.

"It was one of those games where we were bad. We were bad all the way around -- pretty much every single guy.

"It was a very off-night. It was one of those nights that you hope don't come for a very long time, and you work to make sure they don't come for a long time."

Head coach Mike Keenan said he could see the team struggling to find the emotional level that would help them compete against the Sharks right from the morning skate. A long season makes it difficult to stay mentally sharp for every game, and coming off an emotional win over a provincial rival can be a big hurdle, but the head coach made his players aware of that.

Keenan told a few media members hanging around after his scrum it's all he can do in that area. There's no way to train for it. It's up to each individual to figure out how to be focused even on those nights when the body isn't co-operating.

That's part of what makes great teams stand out above the rest, and the Flames will have to deal with similar situations with much greater success in the near future if they want to be considered in that category.

"You have to find ways to still be effective and battle and maybe at the end of the day find a way to win even though you shouldn't," said Iginla. "(Monday) night we didn't find a way to even keep ourselves in that one."

With plenty to motivate them against the Wild, they get a make-up exam tonight.


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