SUN Hockey Pool

Flames loss a true stinker

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- Sick of hearing the cannon that blasts after every Blue Jackets goal, the Calgary Flames probably wanted ear plugs.

Leaving them in for a couple of days is a good idea, because the players won't be hearing any kind words upon their return home after a lacklustre effort in arguably their most important game of the season.

Dropping a 5-0 decision at the Nationwide Arena, the Flames were cooked before the halfway mark.

"You don't want to hear that cannon go off," said winger Michael Cammalleri, after letting loose with a curse. "For us, usually if we keep our goals-against down, we win games. Tonight, we didn't score, but we can't be hearing cannons like that."

Seemingly hypnotized by the tic-tac-toe passing of Rick Nash and former teammate Kristian Huselius, the Flames fell behind 3-0 just three minutes into the second period.

Showing more emotion than his teammates did on the ice with a simple toss of his blocker as he left it, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff said it all with the gesture after being yanked.

To that point, you'd hardly realize the Flames were feeling any pressure to perform with the Vancouver Canucks capable of climbing to within a single point of their rival with a win last night.

The St. Louis Blues did the Flames a favour by besting the Canucks, but that doesn't take away from the terrible outing by the Flames.

"From our point of view in the dressing room, we do have a sense of urgency, we do know where the standings are, we do know the situation," said captain Jarome Iginla. "This game tonight is probably our biggest wakeup call."

The first firing of the cannon didn't wake them up.

Neither did the second.

The third, fourth and fifth just seemed to make the Flames angry, but they didn't play any better.

Expecting the Flames to come at them strong after a disappointing loss the night before in Pittsburgh and the Canucks biting at their ankles in the race for the division crown, the Blue Jackets swarmed from the drop of the puck in an effort to get the visitors on their heels. It worked.

Nash got things started on the powerplay with a perfect feed to a charging Manny Malhotra, who fought off a check from Flames winger David Moss and tapped home his 11th of the season just 3:23 into the game.

With Nash and Huselius putting on a passing clinic with four helpers apiece, the Flames were merely spectators for much of the night as Jason Williams added a pair on the powerplay, and Raffi Torres and R.J. Umberger tallied at even-strength.

"It's frustrating to get embarrassed like that," said defenceman Adrian Aucoin. "We said coming in this goalie's been playing well so we've got to get some bodies in front and score some goals on them, and obviously limit their chances.

"We did neither."

They talked about it as a team with the door closed to the media in the miserable minutes following the thrashing at the hands of a potential first-round playoff opponent -- although the odds of that happening hinge on the Flames winning their division.

"We did (talk as a group). We know this is not good enough. There's no excuse but looking at ourselves," said Iginla. "We've got all the tools, and we've found ways to come out of it before. Unfortunately, we got ourselves in a tighter spot than we'd like to be, but there's eight games left.

"We don't want to be limping into the playoffs, we want to get it going now ... All the pieces are there -- it's us."


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