CALGARY – With the threat of the impending trade deadline looming, the Calgary Flames had one last opportunity to prove to general manager Jay Feaster the club should be buyers come Monday.
And under the threat of instead becoming sellers, the Flames blew a multi-goal lead for the second consecutive game and lost 5-4 in to the Philadelphia Flyers in a five-round shootout at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
"It's no secret we're having a tough time right now playing with the lead," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "We all want the same thing. We all want to win, but it's finding that fine line."
Battling back to secure come-from-behind victories is nothing new for the Flyers, according to Jaromir Jagr.
"It's not the first time we've come back down three goals," Jagr said. "It's like the eighth time already this year. We don't panic. Once we almost came back down 6-0. This team has so much power offensively."
After Curtis Glencross couldn't beat Flyers starter Ilya Bryzgalov to start the fifth round, rookie Matt Read walked in on Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and fired a perfectly placed shot over his glove and under the crossbar for the win.
"I was looking shot the whole way," Read said. "I went down kind of slow, trying to see where he was and just looked for an open spot. His glove wasn't all the way up. I just shot it and hoped and it went in."
Despite earning a point, the loss leaves Calgary one out of eighth place in the Western Conference currently shared by the Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche.
"We keep finding ways to shoot ourselves in the foot," Alex Tanguay said. "We're lucky to get a point tonight."
The Flyers overcame an early 3-0 deficit and twice tied the game in the third period on the way to their second win in three tries on a four-game trip that ends Tuesday in San Jose. With 75 points, they moved into fifth in the Eastern Conference, passing New Jersey.
Calgary led 3-2 before running into penalty troubles in the third period.
Flagged for too-many men and a Matt Stajan boarding call shortly thereafter, Kimmo Timonen let go a one-timer off a Claude Giroux pass that Scott Hartnell deflected past Kiprusoff at 7:35 to tie the game 3-3.
Tanguay put the Flames back on top by scoring on a penalty shot at 10:49. Tanguay faked Bryzgalov and waited for him to be down and out before lifting the puck into the net to put the Flames back in front.
That lead was short-lived thanks to another Hartnell deflection, this one of Nicklas Grossman's wrist shot from the point past a screened Kiprusoff as 12:21. The goal was Hartnell's 30th of the season.
It seemed as though the Flames responded quickly to Feaster's warning of potential changes at the deadline at the start of the game by scoring on their first two shots.
On the power play with Claude Giroux off for holding, Mark Giordano jumped to glove down a Jakub Voracek clearing attempt and blasted a shot on net that eluded Bryzgalov just 3:45 in.
Matt Stajan scored in his second consecutive game when he gained the Philadelphia zone and fired a stoppable shot that went through the five-hole of Bryzgalov at 5:17. The goal prompted a timeout from Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. The move calmed his club, which managed to direct 15 shots on the Kiprusoff in the period.
The Flames tightened up in the second, allowing just two shots in the first half of the second period.
Shorthanded with Jay Bouwmeester off for hooking, the combination of Tanguay and Tom Kostopoulos went to work on the kill. Outworking two Flyers on the boards in the Philadelphia zone, Tanguay pushed the puck into the slot. Kostopoulos grabbed the puck, throwing a deke before lifting the puck over Bryzgalov's glove at 12:55 for the 3-0 lead and his first in 33 games.
It was also Calgary's first shorthanded goal of the season, but instead of lifting the Flames, the goal gave the Flyers a push.
Kiprusoff, who stopped 41 shots on the night, was forced to be sharp on a play by Jagr with 5:09 remaining. Twenty seconds later, Giroux hit the post streaking in on his off wing.
Voracek was able to break through at 4:13. After outmuscling defenseman Derek Smith for the puck at the Flames' blue line, Voracek broke in uncontested and beat Kiprusoff to make it 3-1.
The Flyers made it a 3-2 game with 34 seconds left in the second period when Kiprusoff handled a seemingly harmless Braydon Coburn slap shot, only to have the rebound ricochet off Calgary defenseman Scott Hannan and into the net.
The goal set the stage for the Flyers third period comeback and Read's shootout heroics.
"Good teams know how to come back and fight adversity," Read said. "I thought it was a great solid effort on our part. It was a great win and great comeback."