CALGARY – Michael Cammalleri didn’t have any problem getting up for Thursday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.
Cammalleri elevated his game in the third period to score twice as the Calgary Flames, who had already been eliminated from playoff contention, rallied to beat Vancouver 3-2.
“Regardless of the lack of implications in the standings, it’s like anything that a competitive person does whether you’re playing a ping-pong game or anything else,” said Cammalleri, who reached the 20-goal plateau for the fifth time in his 10-year National Hockey League career. “It’s just you like to win and you like to win against your rivals.”
Cammalleri also gave credit to the sell-out crowd of 19,289 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome for providing inspiration for the Flames.
“Tonight you got the fans that kind said, ‘We’re with you no matter what,’ and the die-hards really came out,” said Cammalleri, while noting that he also saw the large number of Vancouver fans in the stands as well. “Actually you could sense the atmosphere. It was more of an upbeat atmosphere. These fans were awesome tonight. They didn’t get down on us. We were down and we were able to come back and win it for them.”
Curtis Glencross also scored for the Flames (36-29-16), who trailed 1-0 heading into the final period.
Alexandre Burrows and Jannik Hansen scored for the Canucks (50-22-9), whose winning streak ended at seven games.
“Tonight obviously at 1-0 we had some opportunities to get the second goal and we didn’t,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, whose squad went 0-for-6 with the man advantage. “That power play had the opportunity to score for us. It didn’t.
“Sometimes that happens. We’ll just have to start another streak.”
The Canucks missed out on an opportunity to move past the New York Rangers (51-23-7) and into top spot overall in the NHL. The Rangers dropped a 5-2 road decision earlier in the evening to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider, who made 25 saves in a losing cause. “We could’ve gained some ground for first place, but we’ve had it taken out of our hands now.”
Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 32 shots in the Calgary net to improve his record to 35-22-11.
It took the Flames until just after the four minute mark to get their first shot on net, but it was a quality scoring chance. Anton Babchuk blasted a point shot that Matt Stajan tipped. Schneider made the initial save and then stopped the rebound as well.
Sammy Pahlsson took a tripping penalty on the play, but it was the Canucks who capitalized during the man-advantage situation for the Flames.
Vancouver defenceman Dan Hamhuis chipped the puck off the boards into the neutral zone to Burrows, who snuck in behind Babchuk for a clear-cut breakaway. Burrows made a quick move and then deposited a backhand shot into the net behind Kiprusoff to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.
After being outshot 12-3 in the first period, the Flames put up a better fight in the second. Tom Kostopoulos nearly tied the game early in the second, but his backhand shot from the slot hit the post behind Schneider and deflected wide.
With Henrik Sedin in the penalty box for hooking, the Canucks nearly had their second short-handed goal of the game but Kiprusoff made a blocker save to stop Chris Higgins on his breakaway attempt.
With the Canucks on a power play late in the second, Kiprusoff stood his ground to make a chest save on a Ryan Kesler shot.
The Flames then tied up the score at 1:27 of the third period when Cammalleri backhanded a rebound up and over Schneider and into the net. Jay Bouwmeester took the initial shot on goal from the point. Akim Aliu also drew an assist on the goal in his first career NHL game.
“It doesn’t mean much in the standings for us, but it means a whole lot to me to show myself for next year,” Aliu said.
Glencross then jumped on a turnover by Sedin in the slot and wired a shot past Schneider for his first goal in 12 games before Cammalleri scored his second of the game at 16:23 to put the Flames up by a pair.
“They came hard in the third and they put pucks towards the net and got second chances,” Schneider said. “It’s uncharacteristic of us to give up a lead like that. I’ve got to make a couple more saves.”
Just 26 seconds later, Hansen scored to pull the Canucks to within a goal but that’s as close as they would get.
Notes: Burrows moved past Trevor Linden into sole possession of second place for most short-handed goals in Canucks franchise history. Pavel Bure holds the club record with 24 short-handed goals. … Alui, who was born in Okene, Nigeria, drew the starting assignment for the Flames on a line with Cammalleri and Stajan. … It was the first time this season that the Canucks have lost when leading a game heading into the third period. Vancouver’s record when leading after two periods is now 31-1-2.