The Calgary Flames returned home to many disappointed fans in their last game but left them with something to cheer.
A repeat performance in their season finale could prove difficult if their recent efforts against the Anaheim Ducks are any indication.
The Flames try to avoid a seventh loss in eight meetings with the visiting Ducks as both teams close their schedules Saturday.
Calgary (36-29-16) closed March with a 1-4-4 skid and was eliminated from playoff contention with last Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss at Vancouver. The Flames had four days off to dwell on that downfall before facing the Canucks again Thursday with nothing to play for, but they came away with a thrilling 3-2 win.
Calgary was shut out for the first two periods before scoring three in the third, preventing Vancouver from taking sole possession of the lead in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.
“I know we let our fans down this year but we wanted to come out and show ‘em we’re not packing it in, we want to play with pride,” right winger Tom Kostopoulos said. “We’re all happy to be on this team and playing for Calgary so we wanted to play a good solid game.”
“Regardless of the lack of implications in the standings, it’s like anything that a competitive person does whether you’re playing a ping pong game or anything else,” Cammalleri said. “It’s just you like to win.”
The Flames haven’t experienced many wins versus the Ducks (34-35-12) of late, going 1-2-4 over the last seven matchups. Their only victory during that stretch was this season’s lone meeting in Calgary, 1-0 in overtime Jan. 12 behind 23 saves from Miikka Kiprusoff.
Kiprusoff stopped 32 shots Thursday, improving to 6-2-1 over his last nine starts at Scotiabank Saddledome.
“He’s held us in a lot of game games, he’s won us a lot of games. The fans of Calgary are lucky to see him play every night,” Kostopoulos said of Kiprusoff, who is 10-2-1 with three shutouts and a 1.76 goals-against average in 13 home starts versus the Ducks.
“It was actually a pretty bad game for us,” said Cogliano, who had gone pointless over his previous 14 contests. “The first period, we were badly outshot (11-2). It was ugly, but we found a way to win. That’s good because you want to finish the year off well and have something to look forward to next year.”
Jonas Hiller got the day off Thursday but is expected to make his 73rd start - he’s currently tied with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne for most in the league. Hiller has lost his last six away from home, allowing 18 goals, and is 0-2-1 with a 2.36 GAA lifetime in Calgary.
Flames captain Jarome Iginla, held to four points in his last 10 games, has seven goals and eight assists in 11 matchups with the Ducks over the past three seasons.
Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne is uncertain about returning for a 20th NHL season in 2012-13 and could be playing in his last game. With 1,406 career points, the 41-year-old star is three away from tying Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk for 18th place all-time.