Winning feeling most welcome to Flames

Flames forward Alex Tanguay is reflected in the glass behind the team bench as he enters the ice...

Flames forward Alex Tanguay is reflected in the glass behind the team bench as he enters the ice during practice at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta on December 26, 2010. (JIM WELLS/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:05 AM ET

When Alex Tanguay tuned into the highlights of the Calgary Flames 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars just before Christmas, something caught his eye.

It wasn’t the shootout goal he scored to make the difference.

Nor was it the game-tying tally which forced extra time.

It was the reaction on the bench to his regulation-time goal with just over a minute remaining on the clock that made it a 2-2 game.

“Everyone was jumping so hard on the bench,” Tanguay said. “It was almost like a playoff game reaction.

I think that’s a sign guys here do care.

“Now, it’s a matter of making it happen.”

Right now, the Flames must make a lot happen if they want to be a playoff team.

Before Boxing Day action kicked off around the NHL, the Flames were seven points outside a playoff spot with a 15-18-3 record which has them sitting 14th in the Western Conference.

Christmas was festive for the Flames because they went into the break with a big win over the Stars, but the story remains the same — they must cobble together a winning streak.

Make that several winning streaks.

How many points exactly it will take to be a playoff team isn’t known, but it’s likely in the 92-95 range.

That means the Flames must drum up 60 or more points in their remaining 46 games.

“It’s possible with this group to play over-.600 hockey the rest of the way. I think so,” Tanguay said. “We just have to believe it and do it.

“We just have to make our move right now.”

The first step is Monday night’s clash with a Buffalo Sabres team in the same boat in the Eastern Conference. They arrived here with news top scorer Derek Roy is out for the season.

The game kicks off an eight-day stretch, which also includes a New Year’s Eve clash against the Colorado Avalanche and then games against the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders.

Sure, it’s a golden chance to score some wins, but would even that be enough success to make playoffs a reality?

“The big thing is to get on a roll. Things can change very quickly in a week when you play four games,” said Flames coach Brent Sutter. “Would we like to be in a better position? Sure, but we’re not, and it’s about what we need to do to get there.”

The focus around the Saddledome, though, isn’t the end result. Staring at the big picture would make it too daunting to fathom.

Instead, the message is to simply concentrate on the immediate task and let the end result take care of itself.

That is why captain Jarome Iginla admitted he doesn’t follow the action every night as much as he used to in years past.

“I used to look and see whether there were three-point games, but it seems every year it gets to a certain amount of points (needed),” Iginla said. “You have to get a certain number of wins.”

“Three-point games, you know there will be a ton of them, so as years went on, I’ve learned to worry less and less about who’s playing each other.

“We need to get two out of three (the rest of the season). It’s possible. It will be some great hockey to get back and in the playoffs, but from our point of view, it is possible.”

Right now, the Flames and their faithful would relish a second consecutive victory, which this squad has done only twice in the last two months.

“If we start winning some games, we’ll build some confidence and our fans will get back into it and behind us,” Tanguay said. “They’re like us — anxious to win consistently.”


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