CALGARY, Alberta (AP)—Calgary’s slumbering offense finally woke up Monday night and moved the Flames within a win of the Northwest Division title.
Jarome Iginla had a goal and an assist to lead the Flames to a pivotal 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Calgary moved two points ahead of Vancouver for first place in the Northwest. The Flames can clinch the title with a regulation victory in Vancouver on Tuesday. Calgary had lost four of six, while scoring only six goals, before breaking out against the Kings.
“This is what you play for,” Iginla said. “All season, you talk about the division and now we have the opportunity. It’s just one game. We’re looking forward to it and we feel in back-to-backs, we’re due for a lot better performance, too.”
Vancouver had taken advantage of Calgary’s struggles to move past the Flames. Heading into last weekend, Vancouver seemed about to lock up the division and home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
However, the Canucks lost Saturday night in Edmonton, then returned home and lost again to Colorado. Suddenly, with three games left each, the Flames are back in control.
“It’s really exciting. It makes (Tuesday’s) game, for our team, absolutely huge, and for me personally, probably the biggest game I’ve played in my NHL career,” said Calgary winger Mike Cammalleri.
The Flames’ leading goal scorer with 36, Cammalleri entered the night without a point in his previous six games. However, after helping set up Daymond Langkow’s goal 2:05 into the second period, he showed his playmaking ability again later in the period, neatly setting up Iginla’s one-timer that gave Calgary a 2-1 lead.
“(Cammalleri) was carrying it all night, he was creating things out of the corner, drawing penalties. He almost drew a penalty every time he had the puck down low,” Iginla said.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Calgary outshot Los Angeles 19-5 in the decisive second period.
“We were just really lackadaisical, we came out and played individual hockey, and that’s not how you can play in this league,” said Simmonds. “You play individually and that’s what happens, you get burned.”
The Kings’ three-game Western Canadian road trip continues Tuesday night in Edmonton. They’ve been eliminated from playoff contention.
“These are playoff games for us as well as for Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton, because this is as close as we’re going to get,” said Kings captain Dustin Brown. “We need to be a lot more excited and hungry as a team. It was disappointing tonight.”
Calgary went ahead 3-1 in the third period with the rare goal from Vandermeer, who hadn’t scored since Jan. 24, 2008. The veteran defenseman mishandled the puck in front of the Los Angeles net, but it was knocked in by the stick of trailing Kings defenseman Jack Johnson.
Moss rounded out the scoring with his 20th goal of the season after a 15-game wait. Moss swooped in off right wing and made a neat move to his backhand to beat Erik Ersberg.
If would be the lone goal Kiprusoff would surrender on 24 shots, improving his record to 45-22-5. Ersberg faced 38 shots for the Kings.
Calgary finished 0-for-6 with the advantage, including a failed 5-on-3 chance that lasted 1:33 in the third period.
For the second straight game, Calgary went with only 17 skaters, one short of the limit. Pressed up against the NHL salary cap, the Flames have been unable to recall enough players to replace those who are injured.
: Flames D Matt Pelech earned an assist for his first NHL point. … Los Angeles RW Justin Williams played in his 500th NHL game. … Calgary swept the season series (4-0) and has won 10 of 11 from the Kings. … Calgary has not won consecutive games at home since Feb. 24 and 27. … Calgary C Olli Jokinen has no goals in 10 games. RW Todd Bertuzzi has just one in 14. … Calgary is 2-9-1 in the second of back-to-back games.