SUN Hockey Pool

No Ducking this one for Flames

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:59 PM ET

It’s must win time — yet again.

Unless the Flames beat the Ducks in regulation time Wednesday night (7:30 p.m., TSN), their dwindling playoff hopes will be all but mathematically gone.

However, with the Ducks, it’s never easy to close out in 60 minutes.

In the last two meetings, the Flames held a late lead only to allow a heartbreaking goal and get burned in overtime.

There was urgency in the voices of the Flames players Tuesday following practice at West Recreation Centre, but they need to show it at the Saddledome, too.

“We look at ourselves like we’re in the NCAA tournament,” said centre Matt Stajan. “You have to win to advance.

“We have to look at our games as we need to win to make the next one count. That’s our focus. We’re having fun with that.

“Hopefully we get the results and it keeps being a good ride.”

Last Sunday in Anaheim, the Ducks dealt the Flames a crushing blow by scoring with 2:01 left on the clock and taking the game to an extra session.

Right after Henrik Karlsson stopped Bobby Ryan on a penalty shot, Corey Perry ended it by deflecting home a point shot.

In a Feb. 10 overtime win at the Dome, the Ducks got the tying goal with 2:07 left and rookie Cam Fowler ended it in overtime.

The difference in the standings right now between the Flames and Ducks is four points, but if they held onto those leads, the Flames would be up by two instead.

“You are always looking for points, but a few times this year we’ve been up late and instead of us getting two and them getting nothing, we only get one,” said Flames blueliner Cory Sarich.

“We could have avoided overtime the last couple of times we played these guys.”

It’s understatement to say the Flames came out flat the last time they faced the Ducks.

Two Sundays ago in Anaheim, they were down 3-0 less than six minutes in, and starting goalie Miikka Kiprusoff got the hook.

The Flames were also down 4-2 after one period against the Sharks three nights later and went down 4-1 to the Oilers Saturday night before fighting back for a 5-4 shootout win.

Comebacks are nice, but it would easier to play as frontrunners for a change.

The home team should also be fresher, as they’ve been idle since Saturday while the Ducks scraped out a 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche Monday night.

“We have to come out with a lot of energy, desperation, whatever you want to call it,” said Flames blueliner Mark Giordano.

“We’re playing at home. We’re playing in a big game so it should be a good start for us.”

In the time since the Flames last faced the Ducks, they have only picked up one victory, while Anaheim has added five to its win column, including the win at home.

This is the final time this season the Flames face a team they are fighting with in the playoff chase. The rest of the time they will have to scoreboard watch.

Maybe the Flames were watching the out-of-town scores a bit too much over the past 10 days and not focusing on their own games.

“It’s only natural to look at the standings and see what you need,” said Stajan. “You guys are doing that and the fans are doing that. Us as players are doing that.

“We care. We want to get to the playoffs. Maybe it was a factor but every game we have the mindset to win that one. For whatever reason we came out flat a couple of games. It cost us some points.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


Videos

Photos