SUN Hockey Pool

Flames win, rivals' losses boost playoff hopes

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:13 AM ET

DENVER — The good news arrived between the second and third period.

More came in the locker-room after the game.

The best of all was the fact the Flames helped themselves in the playoff race with a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, but they got plenty from others Sunday night.

The Chicago Blackhawks lost 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Anaheim Ducks dropped a 4-3 decision to the Dallas Stars in regulation.

“We’re all scoreboard watching,” admitted Flames winger Alex Tanguay after the contest.

Even during games.

“There was some mumbling after the second period, so we had some idea (Chicago lost),” Tanguay said. “But in a game, you have to focus on your own destiny, and that’s what we tried to do.”

Coincidence or not, the Flames were much better after hearing the news than they were during the first 40 minutes of their clash with the Avalanche.

“We played way better in our own zone,” said netminder Miikka Kiprusoff, who saw just seven shots against over the final 20 minutes on a night he faced 35.

“We were doing a better job in the third. Sometimes, you have to win ugly ones, and tonight was obviously a case of that,” added defenceman Mark Giordano, who wasn’t sure how the outcome of the Blackhawks game affected the Flames on the ice in Denver.

“You try to put it out of your mind. We got some news there in the third that they had lost. It’s a little bit of a boost, but it shouldn’t have anything to do with the game.

“We just weren’t getting those pucks deep and those good chances we usually get.”

Olli Jokinen figured the Flames were guilty of getting caught up in the wrong style of play at this time of year against a team that is way out of the playoff race with nothing to lose.

“We probably didn’t have a defensive mindset we need to have every game,” said Jokinen. “Maybe we were thinking, ‘Let’s play river hockey.’ We’ve been able to score a lot of goals this year against this team. Maybe we had a mindset it’s going to be one of those nights again and we’re going to get a lot of chances.

“We were spending a lot of time in our zone.”

Way too much time. So much that the team might have been behind by a handful after 40 minutes if not for Kiprusoff’s stellar play.

The goaltender was busiest in the second period.

“We had a little discussion about the way we played the second period,” said head coach Brent Sutter.

“We regrouped in between periods, and we tightened up in the third. We never gave them a whole lot in the third until they got that goal. We did things right in the neutral zone and we did things right the way we wanted to play in their zone.

“That’s when our team is a good team and that’s when we’re playing well.


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