SUN Hockey Pool

Flames still moving four-ward

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

She'll get you all worked up with hope, but the feeling deep in your gut she's ultimately going to let you down just won't go away.

That's pretty much how Thursday night's 2-0 victory felt until Christopher Higgins gave the Flames a two-goal cushion halfway through the final frame.

"They carried the play most of the night and had, I think, the better of the chances," Higgins said.

"It just gave us a little bit of cushion with a couple minutes left to settle down and not be so jittery with that kind of talent over there.

"To score at home at that point of the game felt great," added Higgins, who had been teased about his first as a Flame being an empty netter when he scored in the dying seconds of the Detroit game Tuesday night.

The offensive well did run a little dry after an outburst of 14 goals in the previous three outings. They made due.

They gave up a few scary scoring chances, too.

Winning the game and picking up another important pair of points in the race for the playoffs, the Flames at no time made it seem like a sure thing.

It took a billion blocked shots -- exaggeration, yes, but there were 30 of them when all were counted -- a few big saves from goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to earn his 34th career shutout, and two huge whiffs from forward Peter Regin to keep the Senators from starting their short tour through Western Canada with a sweep of Alberta.

Extending their own streak to four consecutive victories, the Flames were about as sexy as defenceman Ian White's awful mustache.

Confidence should be at a high point in the locker-room, but it will take a few more wins and zero letdowns to convince all of Calgary the team will be locking lips with the playoffs.

"We're going to take the win. It's a big two points," said head coach Brent Sutter.

"You are going to need to win games at this time that aren't the prettiest. We found a way tonight and that's a positive."

Even the supposed 7:30 p.m. start time was a tease.

After Jason Spezza shattered the portion of glass that transitions from the low to high panes in the pre-game warmup, the 19,289 fans had to watch old bloopers and an early kiss cam as workers tried three different replacements before finding something suitable so the puck could drop 32 minutes late.

By the time house announcer Beezley asked his usual, 'Are you ready?' people were already on their fourth beer. The Flames probably wished they had some suds to liven things up as they waited.

"I don't really know what happened, but that really threw a wrench in our routine," said Higgins.

"It was pretty boring. We were just sitting here.

"We thought it was going to be any minute we'd go out there, but it just dragged on."

So did the game when it got started.

Only Jamal Mayers managed to score in the first period when Senators goaltender Brian Elliott slowed down a dump from Eric Nystrom just enough to allow Curtis Glencross to pounce on it and send a pass from behind the cage to a charging Mayers.

He zipped a shot over Elliott's glove to earn his first goal in his new colours.

"It feels good," Mayers said.

"I feel like our line can chip in. It might not be every night, but we're gonna get a lot of opportunities because we can skate and get on the forecheck -- hopefully create havoc and energy."

Maintaining their one-point lead on the Detroit Red Wings and moving into a tie with the Nashville Predators, the Flames will look to extend their streak to five Sunday in Vancouver against the Canucks.

Their flirtation with the playoffs continues.


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