CALGARY – The St. Louis Blues’ desperation was too much for the Calgary Flames to handle.
Third period goals 51 seconds apart by Andy McDonald and Jay McClement led St. Louis to a critical 3-2 victory Friday night over the Calgary Flames.
The Blues carried the play throughout the first half of the third period and were finally rewarded with the tying goal at 9:24 when McDonald one-timed a pass from Brad Boyes tying it 2-2.
Although Kiprusoff had no chance on the tying goal, he had only himself to blame on the go-ahead goal as McClement curled out of the corner and scored on a harmless-looking shot that somehow trickled past the Flames goaltender.
“It wasn’t a great shot by any means,” said McClement of his first goal in 10 games. “I was just trying to get it on the net and maybe get a little action off of it, maybe a second chance, but thankfully it went in.”
T.J. Oshie also scored for St. Louis (33-30-9). The Blues leapfrog Minnesota, Anaheim and Dallas in the Western Conference standings and move into sole possession of ninth place, just two points back of Nashville and the final playoff spot.
“That’s how we’ve been been getting our wins all year, we’ve had to fight for every point we’ve got and the guys didn’t give up tonight,” said goaltender Chris Mason.
Mike Cammalleri and Dustin Boyd scored for Calgary (41-24-6), which has lost five of its last seven.
The Flames have seen their lead over the Vancouver Canucks atop the Northwest Division reduced to three points. Vancouver has 12 games remaining to Calgary’s 11.
“Home ice is very important, but it’s also important for us at this time of year to play properly, and to get better,” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. “We had a good game going until the third when they went bang-bang.”
It’s the first time all season Calgary (23-1-3) has come away without a point when leading a game going to the third period.
“They just came out and won the third period and took it away from us. On our part we know that’s unacceptable,” said Iginla, who assisted on both Calgary goals. “It’s our building and the third period has been ours all year. We let one slip away.”
Rather than comment directly on his team’s lacklustre play, Calgary coach Mike Keenan chose to point out some figures from the final scoresheet.
“The most telling stat tonight, and it’s a compliment of the effort of all the players on St. Louis’ side, is they had 24 blocked shots to our six,” said Keenan. “It’s pretty telling about their effort and their desperation to win a game.”
Trailing 1-0 entering the second period, Calgary went immediately to the attack, peppering Mason with nine shots before Cammalleri finally tied it at 2:33 on a power play with his 35th goal off a pretty set-up from Olli Jokinen.
Calgary went ahead 2-1 at five minutes later when Boyd scored his 11th knocking in an Iginla rebound.
That was all Calgary would get behind Mason, who was sharp in net for St. Louis making 33 saves to improve to 15-6-5 in his last 26 games with a 1.99 goals-against average.
“Chris was solid,” said Blue coach Andy Murray. “We certainly left him out to dry the first 10 minutes of the second period there, it was like men against boys.”
Trailing 24-8 on the shot clock at the time of Boyd’s goal, St. Louis began to turn the game’s momentum around after that and were unlucky to not have tied the game earlier.
The best of Kiprusoff’s 25 saves came with two minutes left in the second when he whipped out his glove to stab McDonald’s shot from the slot that was labelled for the top corner.
“We were completely out of synch, completely out of rhythm,” said Blues coach Andy Murray. “I’m sure everyone in the building thought the game was over. We hadn’t had a shot and they had too many. But we were better at the end of the second period and found a way in the third to get the win.”
The lone goal of the first period was Oshie’s shorthanded goal at 4:04 as he knocked in his own rebound after a one-on-one rush down the wing.
Oshie’s 11th goal of the season was the Blues ninth shorthanded goal. Calgary has now surrendered a league-worst 15 shorthanded goals, moving one ahead of the New York Rangers.
Notes: St. Louis is just 2-15-1 in its last 18 games with Calgary. … St. Louis has played 17 sets of back-to-back games posting a better record in the second game (10-6-1) than in the first (6-8-3). … After sitting out the past five games, rookie Calgary D Adam Pardy got back in the line-up as a winger taking the spot of Lw Andre Roy. … C Craig Conroy entered the night as the team leader in plus/minus at plus-17. … Leading St. Louis in plus/minus is rookie Patrick Berglund, who entered the night at plus-16. Berglund is tied for second amongst NHL rookies with Chicago’s Kris Versteeg, trailing only Boston’s Blake Wheeler (+36).