SUN Hockey Pool

Flames feel the burn

Flames forward Jarome Iginla gets shut down by Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov during third period...

Flames forward Jarome Iginla gets shut down by Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov during third period action on Tuesday. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

CALGARY — Eighty games encapsulated in one disappointing outing.

Seems appropriate when it all comes crashing down.

On a night the Calgary Flames were eliminated from playoff contention, their performance against the San Jose Sharks summed up the whole season.

The Flames couldn’t muster enough offence in Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss, and didn’t look capable of ever ringing up the goals needed.

Great goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff couldn’t salvage the situation.

Poorly timed mistakes ended up very costly.

“We all feel like we’ve failed, and we did fail,” said captain Jarome Iginla. “Our first goal was to make the playoffs.

“We had to win our games and then lost two in a row. We know what that means for us. I thought we would win a close one.”

A season seemingly with so much potential — and massive hope at the start of December when they were in the hunt for top spot in the Western Conference — came to an inglorious conclusion.

Their loss — combined with Colorado’s 4-3 shootout win over Vancouver — means the Flames are out of the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

Calgary has two games remaining, but the death knells sounded out constantly before the sellout crowd of 19,289.

The first gong rang out just past the midway point of the opening period when San Jose’s Rob Blake opened the scoring.

The second bong was early in the second period when Jamie McGinn doubled the lead.

The next was heard when the final horn sounded.

The final came when Colorado rookie Matt Duchene sealed the win in Vancouver.

“This is the lowest point in my career right now,” defenceman Ian White said. “I thought we had enough to get in. I thought we had a team to do something special in the playoffs. We came up short.

“This stings right now.”

Despite holding their own in terms of shots and scoring chances, the Flames couldn’t muster enough through the first two periods.

In the third period, they threw everything they could while outshooting the visitors by a 15-4 margin, but simply failed to solve struggling San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov often enough before it was too late.

Sure, Rene Bourque’s goal with 15 minutes remaining in regulation gave some hope, but it was just a tease, and just enough to give a last gasp of hope to the faithful who undoubtedly feel betrayed by what’s transpired this season.

Then again, that’s been the case all too often in the past six months.

“It’s an 82-game season and it wasn’t about tonight,” head coach Brent Sutter said. “We were in this position because of what’s happened before today.”

Too many nights of too little desperation, too little offence and too few results.

“Guys worked hard tonight, as we have, but we’ve been in too many 2-1 games,” Iginla said. “Those are the hardest because you think it could be just one shot. You can chip one in. We haven’t found it enough this year in the close ones. This one stings a lot.

“We thought we were going to get it right until the end.”

Although he wasn’t as busy as his counterpart, Kiprusoff provided more than enough in a 24-save performance to give the Flames (40-31-9) a fighting chance, but it wasn’t enough.

“There’s a lot of high expectations in Calgary and we have to live up to those. We’re going to take a lot of heat,” centre Craig Conroy said.

“I was here in the bad times (before), too, and it can change. It doesn’t take forever. You can turn this thing around.

“But you’ve got to remember this feeling now and take that to Game 1. Not worry about it in Game 78.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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