For the Flames, what began as a must-win game turned into a want-to-win game midway through the second period when the final score from Colorado was announced over the public address system: Nashville’s 4-2 victory eliminated the Avalanche, giving Calgary the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Calgary was leading 2-0 at the time of the announcement that sparked an immediate ovation from the sell-out crowd of 19,289. Chants of “we want the cup” broke out in several sections of the Pengrowth Saddledome.
It was shortly after that Edmonton began its comeback, finally snapping its team-record scoreless streak when Ales Hemsky scored on the power play at 14:56. Edmonton had gone 207 minutes and 44 seconds without a goal since Raffi Torres’ first period goal last Sunday.
The Oilers next goal took less than five minutes with Ladislav Smid tying it 2-2 at 19:50 of the second, blasting a slapshot from the blue-line that deflected off Stephane Yelle and past Miikka Kiprusoff.
Thoresen notched the game-winner at 11:16 of the third working a give-and-go with Danny Syvret tucking in the return pass from the rookie defenceman for his fourth goal of the season.
Tony Amonte and Marcus Nilson scored for Calgary (43-28-10). The Flames lost their third game in a row and will wrap up the season with a now meaningless game in Colorado Sunday night.
Then, Calgary will prepare take on the Western Conference’s top seed Detroit in the opening round of the playoffs.
Edmonton (32-3-7) finishes up its worst season since 1995-96 on a winning note, snapping a stretch of six straight losses overall and a team record-tying nine straight defeats on the road. Over their final 20 games, Edmonton went a dismal 2-17-1 and was outscored 70-24.
Scoreless after the opening period, Nilson put the Flames into the lead 36 seconds into the second.
Amonte passed the puck behind the Oilers net to Nilson who curled out front and fired his fourth goal of the season past Dwayne Roloson.
The same line struck again eight minutes later. Tom Gilbert’s clearing attempt along the end boards deflected off the forechecking Stephane Yelle and caromed into the slot where Amonte snapped a shot inside the goal post, Amonte’s 10th goal of the season and first in 20 games.
Calgary finished up 0-for-7 on the power-play while Edmonton went 1-for-3.
Notes – Calgary D Robyn Regehr (leg) was unable to play after getting hurt in the first period of Thursday night’s loss in San Jose. Inserted in his spot after being a healthy scratch the previous seven games was rookie Mark Giordano. Also unable to play for Calgary was RW Jeff Friesen (torso)… Edmonton’s power-play finished the season 4-for-67 over the final 20 games… Calgary finishes 30-9-2 at home, tied for its second best home record in franchise history. The top mark of 32-4-4 came in 1988-89, the year Calgary won its only Stanley Cup… 2001-02 is the only season that both Calgary and Edmonton have missed the playoffs.