More than a feelin' for Flames

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

The last-minute 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night did more than just snap the Calgary Flames five-game losing skid.

It meant a day off for the club in advance of back-to-back weekend clashes in Edmonton and Vancouver.

Any guesses if head coach Mike Keenan would have given his charges a 'recovery day' had they lost to the Wild?

"I don't know," said Alex Tanguay with a laugh. "I don't know."

Amazing how a win, even if it wasn't pretty and involved some luck, can change the morale in a dressing room.

On the heels of their roller-coaster win, it's easy to assume the Flames spent yesterday in a completely different frame of mind compared to 24 hours earlier. The change was dramatic enough in the moments after the win.

"You saw the excitement at the end of the game," Tanguay said. "It felt like everybody lost 20 pounds skating towards Kipper. It's certainly a good feeling in here."

That's allowed. But make no mistake, one victory does not plug all the holes in the dyke.

As important as it is for the Flames to relish their victory, the facts were still cold and hard.

They'll return to the 'Dome for today's practice two points back of the playoff pace and six behind the Northwest Division leading Colorado Avalanche.

Their victory may have been exciting -- OK, the final 10 minutes were exciting, the rest was rather dull -- but it's worth noting the Wild were without their most dangerous players in Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra, and have gone from starting the season with an eight-game run without losing in regulation to a 2-6-1 skid of their own.

The Flames still took too many foolish penalties, needed a bank shot by Jarome Iginla to tie the game and a weak effort on the part of Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom on the game-winner in the final minute to pull a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Now comes the bigger test. The trick will be turning one victory into a winning streak, or at least a lengthy run up the standings.

The Flames have completed what should have been an easier part of their schedule, with 12 of the first 18 games at home. They'll need a renewed confidence to parlay one win into several.

"It's a chance now to put that behind us, put a slump behind us, and now certainly we've got a lot of work ahead of us," Keenan said. "As you can see, every game in this division is challenging. The best solution for us is a day off, just for the mental break, and we'll get back to work before the two weekend games."

Tanguay, for one, believes you'll see a different Flames team upon their return.

"We can all relax and play the way we're supposed to," he explained. "When you're in a slump, you're squeezing your stick. You saw that. We had problems putting the puck in the net, and we had problems sometimes getting the puck out of our zone. We were just rushing everything as opposed to doing the play that you're supposed to do.

"Hopefully, we can build a little confidence from that game.

"It'll be a difficult stretch for us. Divisional games, we have to make sure we rack up some points. We move up, they move down -- it's that simple."


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