Scoring just six goals during their five-game losing streak, the Flames exploded for three power-play markers as part of a four-goal second period and clung to a 5-4 win in the second half of a crucial home-and-home against the Dallas Stars at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday night.
"(A) little resilience," said Michael Cammalleri, who paced the Flames with a goal and two assists. "I think we played pretty well for the most part. It was one of those games. There were chances both ways and it was probably a fun game to watch but at the end of the day we were able to get one more than them."
Blake Comeau scored his first goal since Valentine's Day – a span of 16 games – while Olli Jokinen broke out of a seven-game goal-scoring drought and Alex Tanguay scored his first in six to keep the Flames alive – at least temporarily – in a much-contested race for the postseason in the Western Conference.
"I don't think anyone is too worried about slumps at this time of year … just worried about trying to contribute when you can," Comeau said.
After Jamie Benn scored just 44 seconds into the middle frame to give Dallas a 2-1 lead, Calgary exploded courtesy the Stars' Mike Ribeiro. Ribeiro’s clearing attempt ended up right on the stick of Comeau, who buried his fifth of the season through the legs of Kari Lehtonen at 9:16.
"To be honest, I wasn't even sure how it got there," Comeau said. "One of the guys told me later that Ribeiro just threw it there. I definitely wasn't expecting that, but I'll take it at this time of year."
Just 45 seconds later, Ribeiro lost a draw to Jarome Iginla in the Dallas end that Cammalleri put behind Lehtonen seconds later for a 3-2 lead.
The Stars forward atoned for at least one of those errors at 14:29, burying a rebound off the pad of Kiprusoff to make it 3-3.
But a pair of power-play goals to close out the period gave Calgary a 5-3 advantage. Mark Giordano's point shot beat the Stars' goaltender over the glove before Tanguay's shot dribbled off Lehtonen's glove and found the back of the net with just 27.5 seconds remaining.
The Stars would answer 5:24 into the third period with a man-advantage of their own. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped Sheldon Souray's initial shot from the point and made a dazzling paddle save on Steve Ott’s rebound, but Philip Larsen lifted the puck over the Flames goaltender on the third try to make it 5-4.
Loui Eriksson almost had the equalizer with 8:07 remaining. On a partial breakaway, Eriksson deked to his backhand, but couldn’t slide it under Kiprusoff, who made 35 saves on the night to preserve the win.
"We knew we were going to play a desperate team and we got into penalty trouble and their power play beat us tonight," Souray said. "We just weren't as disciplined as we have been and we talked about that and we just got away from it and just let them get on the power play way too much tonight."
Much like the second period, Benn struck quickly to start the game.
Just 26 seconds in, Benn fluttered a puck from 60 feet out that Kiprusoff misplayed with his glove, giving Dallas a 1-0.
Benn nearly put the Stars up by two. Just three minutes later, Benn broke in on an odd-manned rush and put another shot off Kiprusoff’s glove and wide for one of his 16 first-period saves.
The Flames pulled even at 6:53. Jokinen snapped his seven-game pointless streak with just his second goal in 13 games to make it 1-1. With Trevor Daley in the box for high sticking, Lee Stempniak found Jokinen untouched in the slot, who beat Lehtonen glove side.
The period grew more costly for the Stars, who lost forward Eric Nystrom to a laceration on his leg.
"He got a cut on his leg, so he'll be a day-to-day guy," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said.
Despite the win, the playoff picture doesn't get any clearer for the Flames according to Tanguay, who suggests the Flames can't spare a single setback.
"We need to win," Tanguay said. "We're in a position where we absolutely need to win and it's going to be no different on Wednesday night (against the Los Angeles Kings)."
With six games remaining, the Flames draw two foes in the Western Conference playoff chase in the Kings and Colorado Avalanche. Calgary then faces a home-and-home set with the Vancouver Canucks before closing the season with the Anaheim Ducks.
1 - 0 DAL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 DAL
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 CGY
3 - 3 Tie
4 - 3 CGY
5 - 3 CGY
5 - 4 CGY