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Flames edge Canucks

Calgary Flames Tom Kostopoulos gets stopped by Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider in third...

Calgary Flames Tom Kostopoulos gets stopped by Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider in third period NHL action at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on April 5, 2012. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI AGENCY)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 12:44 AM ET

CALGARY - In the morning, Michael Cammalleri talked about the love of the game.

That, the Calgary Flames forward said, was key to having some drive in a couple of otherwise meaningless clashes while his team played out the string of a third consecutive non-playoff season.

"To enjoy playing in the NHL and enjoy playing the game of hockey. Respecting the game, respecting the team and respecting everything about it," Cammalleri said philosophically.

He delivered a pair of goals, including his 20th of the season, to lead the Flames to a 3-2 comeback victory over the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night.

"There's too many (Canucks) jerseys in the stands tonight, so it's a lot of fun beating them," Cammalleri said in an on-ice post-game interview.

Yeah, it's a little late now for the Calgary Flames to return to the winner's circle. Snapping their dreadful run of nine games with just one victory, which meant elimination from the second season, doesn't amount to anything.

The Every Game Matters slogan was blown already.

But for one night, the Flames provided their fans with the kind of result they had hoped for these past six months.

Although the Flames (36-29-16) lose when they win on this night.

They moved ahead of Buffalo and Colorado to 18th overall in the league, and a lower draft choice in June should that not change when the NHL regular season concludes Saturday.

The Canucks (50-22-9) lost in regulation when leading after two periods for the first time this season.

With the Flames playing their first game since being done and dusted from Stanley Cup playoff contention last weekend, you knew there wasn't going to be the usual fire between them and the Canucks.

Northwest Division rivalry aside, the only thing on the line was Vancouver's seven-game winning streak and chase for the No.-1 seed in the Western Conference and a second consecutive Presidents' Trophy as regular-season champions.

Through the first two periods, this one played out with the intensity of an evening beer league outing.

That was especially the case when Canucks perpetual thorn-in-the-side Alex Burrows opened the scoring with a first-period shorthanded breakaway tally less than five minutes into the clash for his 28th goal of the season.

And then it was pretty much a glorified shinny game before the announced Saddledome sellout crowd of 19,289, of which a huge percentage were supporting the visitors, who are readying for their team to go on another lengthy playoff run.

Sure, there was a half-hearted "Go Flames Go" chant late in the first period, but it died out easily, much like the club's post-season hopes during the last few weeks.

The period finally added some life.

A couple of skirmishes in the middle frame got the blood boiling, and Cammalleri gave those Flames fans who decided it was better to attend then stay away something to cheer about when he tied the game early in the final frame.

Flames forward Akim Aliu collected an assist in his first NHL game on the tally.

Curtis Glencross then snapped an 11-game goal-scoring drought to give Calgary a 2-1 lead before the midway point of the period, and Cammalleri's second of the game turned out to be the game winner.

The Canucks, realizing they had likely let an easy two points slip away, cranked it up for the final minutes and pulled within one when Jannik Hansen scored, but that was as close as they could come.

Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff, making his 70th appearance for a seventh consecutive season, held the fort to concluded a 32-save performance for the win.

The Flames conclude their season Saturday afternoon against the Anaheim Ducks.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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