DALLAS - Tuned to the Golf Channel, the TV in the hallway outside the Calgary Flames dressing room at the American Airlines Center displayed some serious swings.
Maybe a simple coincidence, it could just as easily have been a courtesy to the Flames players, who have to start thinking about polishing up their clubs, considering the task that lies ahead of them after dropping a 4-1 decision Saturday afternoon to the Dallas Stars.
“We realize out of six games, we’re most likely going to have to win them all,” a frank Jarome Iginla said after the team outshot the Stars 36-20 but came away without a single point in their biggest game of the season.
“We won’t give up.”
The words sounded a little skeptical even as they came out of his mouth as the team’s captain was clearly in a state of disbelief while trying to digest the fact his season is all but over.
Almost as puzzling is how the team that knew so much was on the line could come out in the first seven minutes of a game and allow the opposition to dominate.
The Stars got off to an early lead when Jamie Benn stuffed a wraparound behind Miikka Kiprusoff less than two minutes in, and padded it on Michael Ryder’s quick wrister into the far corner a little more than seven minutes into the contest.
“The first five minutes or so, we were standing and watching. We weren’t moving our feet,” Flames head coach Brent Sutter said.
“It wasn’t the intent. You sensed a well-prepared team. You sensed the guys were ready to go. They knew the importance of the game.
“We got out on the ice, and it just seemed like we were standing, watching. We were kind of caught up into it.
“Once we got skating, we played a pretty good game.”
Plenty of shots were directed at Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen (36 by the final buzzer), but much in the way the Flames practised the shootout Friday after losing in the showdown in two straight games, it was a case of too little, too late.
“It’s a tough thing to come back at this time of year after being down two,” said Sutter.
Unfortunately, it didn’t look that hard when the Wild did it Thursday night against the Flames, stealing the extra point in a shootout.
Their fifth straight loss Saturday put them four points behind the Stars, who held the final playoff spot in the Western Conference prior to the day’s action and jumped into top spot in their division after the win.
Unable to count on the teams ahead of them to offer any sort of help, the Flames absolutely have to win every single one of their remaining games to give themselves any kind of shot at snapping a two-year playoff drought.
“Looks that way. I think we’re realistic about it. It looks like we’ll have to run the table here,” agreed Michael Cammalleri, who scored the Flames’ only goal of the afternoon.
“We’ll have to use that as a liberating feeling. It’s a Cinderella story we’re gonna have to have now. Everybody here is going to write or comment tomorrow, and all the talk is going to be that our season’s over in six games.
“In our room, we’ll feel we have nothing to lose, and that’s usually a fun way to play. We’ll try to be the Cinderella story that gets to the dance.”
Considering they’ve lost five in a row immediately after putting up a season-high winning streak of five victories, it would be a complete fairy tale or miracle if they were able to pull off the comeback now and qualify for the playoffs.
“Our chances are slim,” Iginla said.
“We’re going to have to run the table, but nobody will give up.”