Upon hearing that captain Jarome Iginla was a healthy scratch, the Calgary Flames still had a game to play.
Mike Cammalleri scored twice to lead Calgary to a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, and after the game the Flames announced Iginla had been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Iginla’s absence made for a strange mood in the locker-room before the game, according to alternate captain Mark Giordano.
“It was weird before not seeing him obviously,” said Giordano after the game, but before the trade was officially announced. “We addressed it in our team meeting. Bob (Hartley) told us he wasn’t going to play tonight.
“He’s a good friend and a great teammate. It was a little bit tough at the start, but I thought we did a good job of playing a good game, working hard and getting the win. Whatever happens, we’ll hope for the best for Iggy especially.”
The Flames received U.S. college forwards Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski for Iginla as well as the Penguins’ first-round pick in this summer’s draft.
With Iginla out of Calgary’s lineup for the first time in nearly six years, the Flames (13-15-4) won their eighth straight game on home ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“I give lots of credit to our players, because they showed great focus,” said Calgary coach Bob Hartley. “I really believe that we did a great job, we kept battling, we got some timely goals, and at the end there we were able to play solid in our zone and that’s why we got the win.
“We have lots of great veterans, so obviously leadership is not a problem.”
Jiri Hudler and Steve Begin also scored for the Flames, while Blake Comeau had two assists.
Joey MacDonald made 27 saves in the Calgary net to pick up the win. MacDonald started in place of Miikka Kiprusoff, who had played the past four games for the Flames, including the night before in Calgary’s 2-0 road loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Jamie McGinn, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly scored for the Avalanche (11-17-4), who have lost three straight games and seven of their past eight. PA Parenteau had two assists.
Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov meanwhile stopped 23-of-27 shots.
Avalanche forward Matt Duchene credited the Flames with coming out hard despite the fact they played the night before and that they were without Iginla.
“It should have worked in our favour and it didn’t,” Duchene said. “They were ready to play. Distractions can hurt a hockey team. Give them a lot of credit, they didn’t let it affect them”
The Flames outshot the Avs 14-2 in the first period and took a 2-0 lead by virtue of a power-play goal by Hudler and an even-strength marker by Begin, his first goal in 17 games.
McGinn scored for Colorado at 4:29 of the second before Cammalleri answered back for Calgary just 12 seconds later to put the Flames up 3-1.
Shortly after MacDonald made a nice glove save, the backup netminder let in a weak goal when a pass by Landeskog bounced off the net, then off his skate and in.
Before the end of the second, Cammalleri one-timed a pass from Dennis Wideman past Varlamov to put the Flames up 4-2.
The Avs poured on the pressure in the third, in which they outshot the Flames 16-2, and were rewarded for their persistence when O’Reilly scored during a two-man advantage at 12:34 of the final frame.
In the late stages of the game, Colorado coach Joe Sacco pulled Varlamov from the net in favour of an extra attacker. With 25.2 seconds left on the clock MacDonald made another nice glove save to stop a shot off the stick of Duchene and preserve the one-goal victory.
“The effort was there down the stretch and at the end in the third period,” said Sacco. “They had the lead. They’re playing with the lead and they played last night so they were a little bit tired. We let them off the hook in the first period. That’s the bottom line.”
Notes: Cammalleri ended a nine-goal goalless drought. He had also gone four straight games without recording a point. ... While the Flames have won eight straight games at home, they’ve lost 10 in a row on the road, going 0 9-1 in that span. ... Parenteau drew an assist on McGinn’s goal to give him two goals and two assists in his past three games. For McGinn, it was his second goal in as many games.