SUN Hockey Pool

Clutch? Not much for Flames

RANDY SPORTAK, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

Shortly after the Calgary Flames lost 3-1 to the Vancouver Canucks earlier this week, Curtis Glencross walked out of the training room just as the media entered the dressing room.

Glencross had a crooked smile on his face, one of exasperation having nailed the iron early in the third period and watching his goal-scoring drought go to

17 games.

“Crossbar,” he said while looking at one wag before him.

“So snakebitten.”

Glencross can no longer feel that way with his offensive game. Not after scoring twice and adding an assist in Friday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings Friday night.

But the rest of the Flames sure are in the infirmary feeling punctured in the heart by a cobra.

Going into the game, their playoff hopes were already tenuous at best.

Watching a game disappear the way it did against the Red Wings must feel as bad as a chomp from a rattler.

The No.-8 spot is still a half-dozen points away for the Flames — not beyond reach — but considering how they’ve been unable to close ground by going on a winning spree, it’s not getting any closer.

Considering how fragile things sit these days for the Flames, losing another third-period lead just makes the situation all the worse.

It doesn’t matter to the Flames the Red Wings went into the game without

key forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary and Valtteri Filppula.

That’s life in the NHL, and you’ll remember nobody feeling sorry for Calgary’s squad when it was besieged by injuries late in the 2008-09 season.

A win over Detroit during times like these is huge enough to have a litany of superlatives.

And it looked like the hosts were on their way late in the second period of the affair at the Saddledome.

Thanks to the goals by Glencross and singles by Jarome Iginla and Anton Babchuk, they had a

4-2 lead.

With all the talent the Red Wings possess, that’s not a slam-dunk victory, but certainly as good as most teams could hope for.

But on a night the Flames played about as solid as they can be, and very well deserved a win over the Western Conference’s No.-2 squad, it wasn’t to be.

Not with goalie Miikka Kiprusoff twice surrendering goals he will be the first to admit he has to stop.

Not with Detroit’s high-octane powerplay given six chances, including a pair of five-on-three opportunities, and making the most of a five-on-four in the dying seconds of the middle frame to make it a one-goal game

Not with this team’s inability to come up with that one more clutch tally to start a winning run it so desperately needs, say during a 90-second powerplay to end the overtime period.

Glencross snapped his skid, but others who are also

in desperate need couldn’t come through when given their chance to be part of a victory.

Just before the Red Wings scored to make it 4-3, Rene Bourque was fired a cross-ice pass as he charged to the net, and couldn’t redirect it past Jimmy Howard for what could very well have been a shorthanded heartbreaker for the visitors.

Hagman himself had a couple of chances early in the second period and another early in overtime to win it.

Matt Stajan, another member of the misfiring club, failed to click in a second-period scramble that also could have given the Flames a three-goal edge.

Instead, it’s another night lamenting one that got away.

A few days ago, the Flames knew they had a tough task ahead of them with games against the Vancouver Canucks and the Red Wings — the top two teams in the conference.

They put in strong enough performances to earn victories in both had they made some breaks.

Instead, they lost both, are now on a three-game losing skid and ready to go out on a four-game road trip.

Can somebody send them more snake repellent?

There may not be enough to go around.


Photos