TAMPA -- The fuel tank was on 'E' with the finish line in sight but all the pushing in the world couldn't get the Flames into victory lane.
"I knew that," nodded head coach Darryl Sutter after his Flames fell 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
"I mean, you could see it early and you know what? We played as well as we could.
"Let's not forget, hey, we got beat by a great team."
Sutter said injuries sustained throughout the playoffs, particularly in Game 5 of the final, took their toll.
Defenceman Robyn Regehr suffered a high ankle sprain during a 3-2 overtime win that night, while winger Shean Donovan sprained the MCL in his right knee in the same contest.
Although Regehr continued playing, Donovan missed the final two games of the series despite testing it in the pre-game warmup last night.
"That's what it was at the end," Sutter suggested.
"That's what they were playing on and that's all they had left.
"I'm disappointed for (my players) but I want to congratulate the Tampa organization. (GM) Jay (Feaster) did a great job."
Although Sutter had been accused of trying to influence officiating with public comments during the playoffs, the outspoken coach said he was pleased with their work.
A controversial charging call against Flames defenceman Andrew Ference with one minute remaining and the Flames down 2-1 could have been argued afterwards but Sutter resisted the temptation.
"If you are going to pick officiating for Game 7, who do you want? Kerry Fraser and Bill McCreary are the two perfect guys for it."
Fraser, of course, drew the ire of Calgary fans in Game 4 after he called an early five-on-three powerplay for Tampa, which led the game's winning goal. Fraser was pelted off the Saddledome ice after that 1-0 loss.
Tank was runnin' on empty
DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun
, Last Updated: 2:36 PM ET