Losing Flames show fight to bitter end

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Sometimes you learn as much about a team in a loss as you do a victory.

In Sunday's 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, you saw a Calgary Flames team that didn't give up.

Falling three goals behind a team like the Ducks, it would have been easy to call it a night and coast -- especially after playing the evening before across town and eking out a win against the Los Angeles Kings.

They were tired. They shortened their bench. And, still, they fought till the bitter end.

Nearly completed the comeback, too.

"You win six, you feel like you're gonna win them all," Flames forward Craig Conroy said of the team's confidence even when falling behind.

"Obviously you're not going to win them all, but I think you start to get that confidence in your mind and you're feeling good about yourself as a team.

"It just grows."

Seems the never-say-die mentality has grown since the Flames' comeback win over the Predators in Nashville a couple of weeks back.

They were down three goals at the midway mark but plugged five straight in the last 26 minutes to essentially turn their season around with their first back-to-back wins of the year early in their six-game streak.

Now they're trying to avoid losing a second straight so they can start another winning run.

"Hopefully we can come out and get the lead (tonight), and just kind of roll, 'cause those are the fun games," said Conroy, whose Flames take on the Phoenix Coyotes at the Saddledome tonight (Sports-net, 8 p.m.).

If they don't get the lead, they won't panic as some Flames teams have done in the past. There's a new attitude in the locker-room.

"I think so," said defenceman Adrian Aucoin. "We have a confident group.

"When we get scored on early like that, it's a step back, but we have a lot of talent on our team and we have a lot of character, which is great.

"Even though a lot of our skilled guys are so gifted offensively, there's a lot of grit in there, too. That kind of just plays into the whole thing of never giving up."

It could be their motto. Aucoin said it starts with their stars.

"When you have a captain like Iggy (Jarome Iginla) who literally wants to win every second of every shift, and Dion (Phaneuf), the same way, you really follow those guys."

Despite their streak coming to an end Sunday, the team wasn't in foul spirits yesterday afternoon.

However, they know they have to be better than they were in Southern California, where they relied heavily on goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.

The Flames haven't made things easy on their goalie, with 73 shots against in two games.

Head coach Mike Keenan likes his team's resiliency, but wants to see them get back to what made them successful when they snapped out of a first-week funk.

"The last two games, we were a little bit careless ... We really changed our approach," said Keenan.

"Our streak was started because of good defence."


Videos

Photos