Flames edge Stars

Stars forward Steve Ott wrestles with Flames forward Jarome Iginla at the Scotiabank Saddledome in...

Stars forward Steve Ott wrestles with Flames forward Jarome Iginla at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., March 26, 2012. (TODD KOROL/Reuters)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:19 AM ET

CALGARY - The tension was strong enough to choke a dinosaur.

The Calgary Flames didn't gag.

And unlike Mr. T-Rex et al, they'll live for another day.

Thanks to a season-best three powerplay goals, all kinds of resiliency and yet another fingernail destroying finish, the Flames claimed a clutch 5-4 win Monday night over the Dallas Stars.

Sure, the Flames (35-27-15) remain in 11th place in the NHL's Western Conference, a couple of points outside the playoff picture and badly needing an unlikely winning streak until the regular season concludes plus all kinds of help elsewhere, but they came up with the kind of victory needed in their situation.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We won by one goal, and everyone's still counting us out," cautioned Michael Cammalleri, who had a goal and three points. "So let's just go and enjoy playing our next game."

A little Devil May Care attitude couldn't hurt the Flames at this point, anyway.

After all, they likely need to win at least four of their final five regular-season tilts, and even if they somehow run the table, they may require a hand.

The way Cammalleri sees it, going with a more relaxed attitude helped them beat the Stars for the first time this season.

"We have to use that (feeling of every game being a must-win) as a release of pressure. Everybody's counting us out, so go play with less to lose. Generally, when you do that, you find ways to play better hockey and your probability of winning games is better," Cammalleri said. "When you're trying to win by half-a-goal, it's hard to do in this league.

"I think there was a little less squeezing the stick. I think we were a little looser in a positive way in our play. When that happens, for whatever the reason, the puck starts going to better spots, and it starts finding the net."

It took a major league dose of fortitude, though, after falling behind only 26 seconds into play when Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff flubbed Jamie Benn's 60-foot wrister.

That just started the roller-coaster ride for the Saddledome sellout crowd of 19,289 fans.

Olli Jokinen's first goal -- and first point -- in eight games drew the hosts even, but they fell behind when Benn scored again less than a minute into the middle frame.

Goals by Blake Comeau and Cammalleri 45 seconds apart at the midway point gave the hosts their first lead, but Mike Ribeiro made that disappear moments later.

The Flames again regrouped the right way when Mark Giordano and Alex Tanguay scored powerplay goals late in the middle frame.

Philip Larsen's man-advantage goal early in the third period made it a one-goal game, but the Flames again recovered their cool and hung on to victory.

"We felt we were due to get some bounces, and (Monday night), we certainly did," Tanguay said. "We wish those bounces would have come earlier, but right now, we're just hoping to win our game and hoping good results will happen.

"Wednesday (when the Los Angeles Kings come calling) is another huge game for us. We can't afford to lose.

"We still have a chance. and I'm crossing my fingers this chance will result in something good."

That's exactly the mindset Flames head coach Brent Sutter is looking for.

"It doesn't do any good to scoreboard watch or anything like that, because we have to win our games," Sutter said. "Let's just focus on our ourselves. We know that there's no easy task here, but we also know that it's something we can accomplish if we're really focused and we stick together with it."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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