CALGARY – This time, it was Mike Cammalleri’s turn to shine on Calgary’s balanced offensive attack.
Cammalleri scored twice as Calgary survived a scrappy performance from St. Louis in a 3-1 victory over the lowly Blues.
“It’s a cliche, finding ways to win, but it only applies to teams that win a lot so we’ll take it,” said Cammalleri.
After scoring Calgary’s first goal tying the game in the first period, Cammalleri put the icing on Calgary’s seventh straight home ice win with his second of the night at 17:09, just 49 seconds after David Moss had put the Flames into the lead.
The insurance goal was a nice effort by the diminutive Flames forward, who stepped around Blues defenceman Barret Jackman then took the puck to the net beating Mason inside the goal post.
Cammalleri’s 17 goals puts him one behind team leader Jarome Iginla.
“I’ll do whatever I can but I have to be honest, I expect his to come in bundles,” said Cammalleri. “He had a couple really good shots in the third that he got off in Jarome-like fashion, hard and crisp and they did everything but go in. With him, it’s just a matter of getting him his chances and they’ll start going in.”
Besides Cammalleri, Daymond Langkow and Rene Bourque each have 15 while Moss now has 14.
Moss was credited with the game-winner when he tried to centre the puck from the corner and had the puck carom off the glove of fallen Blues defenceman Jay McKee and bounce past unsuspecting goalie Chris Mason.
“It was just one of those pinball plays, it was an ugly game and that was the sort of goal it was too,” said Moss.
McKee was frustrated to see the team lose on a fluke goal.
“When our guys play that hard, a lot of fights, a good spirited game, there’s no comfort whether it’s a bad bounce or not, it really stinks,” said McKee.
Mason was quick do defend McKee, who was making his return after a thumb injury had sidelined him for 11 games.
“He made the right play, he’d stop a shot with his face, that’s the kind of player he is, it was clearly an unlucky bounce,” he said. “Ninety times out of 100 that’s not going to happen.”
Calgary (26-12-4) leads the Northwest Division. They moved seven points ahead of the Vancouver Canucks, who lost 5-3 to New Jersey, and within eight points of the idle Detroit Red Wings for second place in the Western Conference.
The Flames are 10-1-1 in their last 12 games. Iginla has scored in just two of those games.
“We’re using (the standings) as a source of motivation right now to keep our focus and keep on improving,” said Cammalleri. “We’re well aware of the spread right now and the games in hand and what’s going on with Vancouver in our division and we’d love to keep this roll going as long as we can.”
Dan Hinote scored the lone goal for St. Louis (16-23-3). The Blues have lost nine of their last 10 road games.
Calgary entered the game as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, but the last-place Blues gave them everything they can handle for the first 55 minutes.
Tied 1-1, St. Louis looked poised to take the lead in the waning moments of the second period if not for a spectacular goaltending of Miikka Kiprusoff. Playing without a stick, Kiprusoff made consecutive pad stops off David Perron and Brad Boyes on dangerous shots from the slot.
“This is an extremely tough building, you almost have to be perfect to win here and we almost were,” Mason said. “Losing sucks, but at least you can be a little more satisfied with the effort we put in because Calgary is a great team and we played with them right til the end.”
St. Louis opened the scoring on a fluke goal of their own. After Kiprusoff stopped Hinote’s harmless shot from a bad angle, the puck was accidentally put into the net by Calgary’s Curtis Glencross when he mishandled the puck and instead knocked it past the stunned Flames goaltender.
Hinote was credited with the goal for his first of the season and first in 37 games dating back to Feb. 2, 2008.
Kiprusoff finished with 27 saves to improves his NHL-high win total to 26 (26-11-3).
Mason stopped 31 shots for the Blues to drop to 3-13-1.
St. Louis lost Keith Tkachuk to injury late in the second period. Tkachuk appeared to hurt his jaw in a collision with Andre Roy.
Notes: With RW Todd Bertuzzi (hip) missing his second game, D Jim Vandermeer got back in the line-up as a winger. Vandermeer (ankle) had missed 25 games since last suiting up back on Nov. 9… A pre-game ceremony honoured Flames part owner Doc Seaman, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 86… Calgary has won 13 of its last 14 games against St. Louis… While St. Louis C Yan Stastny (thumb) did not play, the Blues did welcome back D Jay McKee (finger), who returned after missing 11 games… The next assist for Tkachuk will be No. 500 in his NHL career.