CALGARY – The Calgary Flames’ playoff hopes are not dead yet.
Mike Cammalleri had a goal and two assists Monday night as Calgary kept their post-season aspirations alive, erupting for four second period goals in a 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars.
The critical victory, which snapped a five-game winless skid, moved the 11th-place Flames to within two points of the eighth-place Phoenix Coyotes and the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Calgary trails the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche by one point.
“We need to win, as the only chance for us to get in might be to win these next five games,” said Alex Tanguay, whose goal with 28 seconds left in the second period was the eventual winner. “We’re going to put our best effort in and hope that the out-of-town scoreboard is going to be favourable to us as well.”
The scoreboard was kind to the Flames on Monday, as the Kings lost 1-0 to Vancouver and Colorado fell 5-1 in San Jose.
The Flames host Los Angeles on Wednesday night as the Darryl Sutter and Brent Sutter go up against each other in a game with massive implications.
“We’re going to give it our all, there’s no holding back,” Tanguay said. “We want to be in. We’ve worked so hard for the past two months, played some very good hockey. Haven’t been as lucky as we’d like to be but maybe this luck will come our way the last few games.”
The Flames came into the game scuffling offensively with just six goals in their previous five games, but broke out in a big way with four goals over the final 11 minutes of the second period to surge in front 5-3.
A key moment came when Brent Sutter called a time-out 1:04 into the second period, shortly after Jamie Benn’s second goal of the night on a three-on-two had given Dallas a 2-1 lead.
Cammalleri was on the bench at the time, sitting directly in front of his furious head coach.
“I was glad I didn’t have to make eye contact because I was in prime position for a good f-bomb speech,” Cammalleri said. “But that’s good. I like emotion. I think we’re all big boys and men here and I have no problem with coaches doing that. We expect more out of ourselves than anybody so good for him. The message was basically let’s wake up here and get going, enough is enough.”
The time-out worked, aided by a forgettable shift for Mike Ribeiro.
With Jarome Iginla about to check the Dallas centre into the end boards, Ribeiro inexplicably passed the puck up into the slot to a wide-open Blake Comeau. The Flames winger slapped his first goal in 16 games past a stunned Kari Lehtonen at 9:16.
Forty-five seconds later, Ribeiro lost a face-off to Iginla in the defensive end and Cammalleri was fortunate to have the puck slide right to him when Anton Babchuk’s shot from the blue-line hit a player in front.
Ribeiro turned his fortunes around at 14:29, tying the score 3-3 with a goal from a scramble.
However, Calgary answered right back with power play goals from Mark Giordano and Tanguay before the period ended.
The Flames finished the night three-for-six with the extra man after going two-for-23 in their previous eight games.
“A little more confidence, a little more snap in our passes, jump in our stride, you’re feeling good and a little better with the puck after you get a couple goals,” Cammalleri said.
The success came against a Dallas penalty killing unit that had been red-hot of late, having killed off 41 of its last 43 chances over the past 13 games.
“They’ve got an extra player so you’re playing the percentages when you just keep giving them opportunities,” said Stars defenceman Sheldon Souray. “We’re usually a much more disciplined team and over the last 3-4 games, we’ve definitely gotten away from that and we can’t do that if we want to have any success down the stretch in these last six games.”
Olli Jokinen, with his first point in eight games also scored for Calgary (35-27-15). The Flames are 5-0-2 in their last seven games at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Four of their final five games are on home ice.
Philip Larsen had the other goal for Dallas (41-30-5). The Stars, kicking off a four-game road trip, have lost five of their last six away from home.
“You’ve got to learn how to win. The way we went about it doesn’t look like we want to win. It really doesn’t,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “They’ve got to figure it out for themselves, they either want it or don’t.”
Dallas is passed by the Sharks, who take over top spot in the Pacific Division and third in the conference. The Stars are even in points with Phoenix, but sit seventh as they hold a game in hand on the Coyotes.
Notes: Dallas LW Eric Nystrom was injured early in the first period and did not return…. The Stars made two line-up changes from Saturday, inserting forwards Jake Dowell and Ryan Garbutt for Radek Dvorak (ankle) and Toby Petersen…Stars fall to 15-2-1 when Benn records a multi-point game…Lehtonen last gave up five goals in a game on Jan. 3 in a 5-4 loss to Detroit…Comeau’s fifth goal came on his 128th shot. His 3.2 shooting percentage entering the night was worst among NHL forwards with greater than 100 shots.