With two AHL players playing significant minutes, and Jim Vandermeer playing second-pairing defense, the Calgary Flames managed to win the fifth Battle of Alberta in Edmonton, 3-2 in the shootout. Matthew Lombardi roofed a great shot with a screen in front with 1:10 remaining to tie the game, and then Todd Bertuzzi scored the shootout winner with a neat move on the first shot.
This was another big win for the Flames with the Canucks winning again in Toronto. The win means the Flames keep their 8 point advantage over Vancouver in the race for the Northwest and lowers the magic number for clinching the Northwest to 39.
However, the dark cloud that started with Rene Bourque's high ankle sprain suffered in Minnesota on Thursday got bigger this game, as David Moss went down hard in a scary collision with Dustin Boyd late in the third. If this injury is serious, and there is a good chance it may be, I think there may be a high probability that Darryl Sutter makes a move to replace at least one of Rene Bourque or David Moss for the short term. Perhaps this move won't be for one of the higher-profile wingers on the market, but it could be one of the classic under-the-radar moves that Sutter has been so good at over the years. I don't know though. All I know is that I don't have much confidence in Jamie Lundmark and Kyle Greentree to fill in for weeks at a time. The magic number being 39 points means that the Flames win the division if, at minimum, they win 10 games of their remaining 23 and Vancouver loses 10 of their remaining 23 in regulation. Whether Sutter wants to make the assumption that this can happen without the no. 2 and potentially the no. 3 RW on the team for a good deal of time, I don't know. (The only good news on this front is that Daymond Langkow's hand injury is only day-to-day.)
Some more thoughts on the game itself. Calgary's two regulation goals were simply the two most unexpected goals of the year. The first - Cory Sarich making like Bobby Orr, getting around Tom Gilbert in the neutral zone, faking a shot down the wing, then feeding Jarome Iginla with a perfect pass - was succinctly summed up by Marc Crawford: "I don't think you'll ever see a better pass from Cory Sarich." And then the game tying goal - I don't think I have ever seen Lombardi shoot the puck so high! Whether these two goals were just bizarre anomalies or not, my opinion of both these players is higher than it's been in a long time. Sarich especially, and not just for this game...it's good to see the Flames get two well-deserved wins against divisional teams after Miikka Kiprusoff stole 3 points last week in California...when was the last time the Flames won two straight games that went to overtime?....it looks like Iggy is finally breaking out of his slump. He had three points this week and looks to be shooting and creating chances more. It would be a classic Iginla thing to do to play his best hockey of the season when his support is injured, and in March at that...Sam Gagner's disastrous shootout attempt was the only bad luck the Oilers had all night, and I'm still laughing because of that...I've never seen the move that Todd Bertuzzi scored on before. He always seems to know the perfect move to use....the Flames' play this week was overall better. My source of concern has primarily shifted to the injury front.
The Flames have their second-last three game homestand next week. On Monday come the hungry Blue Jackets, then the Minnesota Wild again on Friday before the hapless Lightning on Sunday (a game I'll be attending). This week the Flames got an important 5 of 6 points, similar points next week are important, as they go on a season-high seven game Eastern road trip after that due to the Brier.