Flames fend off feisty Isles

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

The look of relief on Michael Cammalleri's face was obvious.

His shot at the gaping cage was heading wide, but goaltender Joey MacDonald stopped it, then inadvertently knocked it across the goal-line to open the scoring.

The ease was equally palpable in the crowd after the Calgary Flames earned an at times surprisingly difficult 5-2 win over the cellar-dwelling New York Islanders last night at the Saddledome.

It was expected to be a lot simpler for the Flames against the league's worst squad this season.

It looked as if it would be after Cammalleri netted his 15th of the year on the powerplay 6:55 into the contest to give the hosts the start they needed. He almost rolled his eyes as he looked skyward and smiled.

"I thought I'd missed. I was going to try and get the puck again, but it went off him and in," said Cammalleri, sporting a cut over his right eye after taking a high stick in the second period. "It was like, 'Ohh!' relief that it went in. It's been a few games.

"It was a tough angle, but it was a great pass by Langks (Daymond Langkow) and the net was open."

Rene Bourque made it 2-0 just 41 ticks into the second period with a spinning wrist shot that found the top shelf behind MacDonald.

Fighting back with a roster littered with unknowns, the Islanders made a game of things, tying the score with goals from Trevor Smith and Jeff Tambellini.

The idea of a letdown game after such a stunning win over the league's best in the San Jose Sharks two nights earlier suddenly didn't seem such a stretch.

But Langkow wristed one past MacDonald during a scramble in the slot to give the Flames another lead late in the period, and Curtis Glencross added some insurance with his eighth of the year early in the third.

"It seems to me we have trouble in the second period a lot," said Bourque, who now has 15 goals on the season. "Hopefully we can get that fixed up."

Fortunately, the Flames found another gear.

"Whenever you play a team like that that's searching for some success, you don't want to let them stay in it or get back in it like that," said Cammalleri. "That's when you get a little scared."

Struggling since setting career highs with five points apiece on New Year's Eve, Cammalleri and captain Jarome Iginla had strong evenings.

Finishing with a goal and an assist, Cammalleri could have potted at least a couple more.

He had one hard shot snap Sean Bergenheim's stick in half in the first period, fanned on another chance later, and was stoned by MacDonald on a Brett Hull-like one-timer in the second period.

He cranked one of the goal-post in the third period.

"I hit a post, this and that, everything but the net," he laughed.

Iginla, too, could have finished with more than just the lone assist on defenceman Adam Pardy's first NHL goal.

On the same shift he nailed the crossbar, Iginla watched MacDonald dive in front of a bullet as a wobbling puck made its way slow-motion to the captain, who had all night to wind and blast one at the temporarily open net.

It was redemption for a duo that had combined for a minus-11 rating with just one assist between them over the last three games.

They now get to enjoy their success for four days before the St. Louis Blues visit the Dome Tuesday.

"When you have four days to relax, recharge and think about it, all the stuff you're doing with your family and friends," said Cammalleri. "It's a lot more pleasant coming off a win."


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