SUN Hockey Pool

Bounces make big difference

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Throughout the course of their rather unfortunate spring slide the Calgary Flames have talked endlessly about needing a few breaks.

A bounce here or there, as they suggest, and things could have been different.

Well, last night they got more bounces than an episode of The Man Show.

And because of it, a month of misery can all be forgotten tonight in Vancouver where a win can clinch the Northwest Division they did their best to fritter away.

The first fortuitous hop came late in the second period of a 1-1 game against lowly Los Angeles the Flames had to have in order to take advantage of the Canucks weekend failings.

In the midst of a scrambly endeavour in his own end Jordan Leopold made a weak clearing-attempt that drew a massive grown from the crowd as it headed straight to Anze Kopitar at the point.

However, the surehanded sniper somehow had it pop over his stick and onto the tape of a surprised Mike Cammalleri lingering alone at centre.

From there it was just like old times as Cammalleri headed east after crossing the blueline on a 3-on-2 before sending a brilliant cross to Jarome Iginla.

The captain one-timed a beauty past Erik Ersberg for the lead, prompting a rare set of smiles from the Flames two offensive leaders.

"I got a great bounce, I'll just say that," laughed Leopold, who got an assist on the play.

"It was kind of a crazy bounce or that could have gone the other way too. If that d-man would've got that puck it would have been a three-on-two or a four-on-three. It worked out for us so we'll take it."

Early in the second period lady luck struck again when Jim Vandermeer drove to the net only to lose the puck as Ersberg attempted a poke check. However, the puck immediately ricocheted off defenceman Jack Johnson's stick and into the net, making it look to the untrained eye like ol' Vandy scored a dandy.

Replays of the goal elicited a different kind of groan as the local were treated to yet another rib-tickler that put the hosts up 3-1.

"It was a helluva move -- it was awesome... just don't look at the replay," chuckled Vandermeer of his first goal as a Flame, dating back 75 games.

"What a stutter-step," added Iginla with a grin.

"I just stopped watching after the stutter and put my arms in the air."

None of this is to take anything away from the battered Flames who needn't make any apologies for using a little good fortune to beat the league's 25th-ranked squad.

Playing one skater short and devoid of several key starters at both ends of the rink, the Flames got it done.

That's all that matters.

David Moss's game-sealer was a gem befitting his first 20-goal milestone and Miikka Kiprusoff was stellar early on to set the tone.

Going 0-for-6 on the powerplay (to run their slump to a stunning 0-for-31) was tough to watch for the local faithful, but the only stat that mattered came in the form of two big points - the difference between them and Vancouver with three games apiece left.

And just like that the Flames appear to have things back under control in that regard.

OK, so the Flames also got considerable help from tonight's host over the weekend, although no one should expect that hospitality to continue this evening.

First place in the division and a preferential matchup with Columbus most likely essentially comes down to this game.

A win and home ice (and a fancy new banner) is secured.

Lose and things get tense around here once again.


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