The Calgary Flames won’t make the NHL playoffs this season, but that sure hasn’t deterred their effort.
Karri Ramo had 33 saves in regulation plus three more in the shootout and red-hot Mike Cammalleri scored the winning goal as the Flames won 2-1 over the San Jose Sharks on Monday.
Scoreless after two shots each, Cammalleri moved in from off the right wing and went short side on Alex Stalock, setting off a roar from the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd announced at 19,289.
Cammalleri entered the night tied with Jarome Iginla for the most goals since the trade deadline (9) and tied with Tyler Seguin for the most points over that same period (15).
It then came down to Karri Ramo, who thwarted James Sheppard to clinch it. That coming on the heels of stops against Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski.
“We played the total team game. I know that Karri Ramo played well, brought us some big saves at the right time, but to pick one player of the game tonight, we could have a long list. I felt that it was a real solid team effort,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley.
Joe Colborne scored in regulation for Calgary (30-35-7). The Flames have won 10 of their last 13 on home ice.
“Let’s play well at home, let’s get a swagger in this building,” said Hartley. “I think the fans are unbelievable, they’ve been behind us since the start of the season. The way we’re playing right now is maybe a small way to say thank you for all our great support.”
It was also Calgary’s league-leading 43rd one-goal game. That’s two away from the club record of 45 set in 2005-06.
“It’s a tough test whenever San Jose comes in and the fact that we were able to match them and pull one out in the shootout is pretty special,” said Colborne. “We hope to be battling them for a divisional or a conference lead sooner rather than later so it’s a huge experience for us.”
Sheppard scored in regulation for San Jose (46-18-9). It’s his second goal in as many games for Sheppard, matching his output from the season’s first 56 games.
Despite having their four-game road winning streak come to an end, the point was enough for the Sharks to clinch a playoff spot for the 10th consecutive season.
“It was probably an inevitability but there is satisfaction in clinching,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. “That was one of the goals that we set out to do and they’ve accomplished that. It would’ve been nice to get the two points, obviously we’re in a heck of a race for other things so that’s a little bit disappointing, but we have to move on.”
The Sharks lead atop the Pacific Division increases to two points over Anaheim, but the Ducks hold two games in hand.
“We were going to clinch no matter what. It was just a matter of time,” said Sharks captain Joe Thornton. “We’ve just got to continue to get points. It would’ve been nice to get two but we’ll take the one.”
San Jose wraps up its short two-game road trip in Edmonton on Tuesday night.
After being outplayed much of the first period, Calgary had a much better second.
Early on, Stalock had to be sharp, throwing up his blocker to deny Sean Monahan from the slot and stopping Kris Russell from in close after he was set up neatly by Kenny Agostino.
The Flames kept up the pressure and it eventually paid off on Colborne’s ninth goal at 18:00, the result of a heady play by rookie defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon.
Playing his 10th NHL game, the 21-year-old faked a shot and sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Colborne, alone at the side of the net, who buried it over Stalock as he desperately slid across.
“That’s an all-star play right there,” said Colborne, who has five goals in the past 11 games. “Not too many guys can fake a shot, head up, and find me back door — flat pass through the seam. That was an all-world play.”
After missing six weeks with a knee injury, Ramo’s first two starts since his return have been excellent. Saturday night he stopped 24-of-25 in the Flames 8-1 win in Edmonton.
One area he had struggled in were shootouts going 0-3 and stopping just 6 of 14 shots coming into Monday’s game.
“It’s a tough situation. It’s something that I have to better at, I need to make more saves,” said Ramo. “We took a look at the shootouts when I had a little bit of time off so we decided to change some things and work on that and today it worked and that was a good thing, it gives you confidence.”
Ramo improves to 13-10-4.
Stalock had 26 saves in regulation. He hasn’t lost in regulation in his last six starts (4-0-2) and is 11-4-2 on the year.
“A point in any game in this league is good, especially on the road. Two points were right there. It would’ve been huge, obviously, for the race for the Pacific,” Stalock said. “Obviously our goal was to make the playoffs but everybody in this room knew that we should make the playoffs. It’s an honour to make the playoffs. Not everyone can. Now the last nine are about positioning.”
Notes: San Jose D Brad Stuart (upper body) returned after missing 13 games...San Jose owns the fourth longest playoff streak in professional sports (NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB). They trail Detroit Red Wings (22), San Antonio Spurs (16) and Denver Nuggets (10).