CALGARY – Don't tell Akim Aliu
and Henrik Karlsson
that Game 82 on the schedule between two non-playoff teams doesn't mean anything.
Aliu scored his first two National Hockey League goals and Karlsson earned his first win since January 21, 2011 as the Flames beat the Anaheim Ducks
5-2 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday afternoon.
Karlsson earned the win – his first in 442 days - and improved to 1-4-2 after a bumpy road throughout the season backstopping the always-active Miikka Kiprusoff
"It's nicer [to win]," Karlsson said. "People talk about it. Obviously, I want to win when I'm playing. It's always nice to win. It doesn't matter what kind of win it is. It doesn't matter if it's a practice or if it's a game. It's always nice to win."
Aliu finished his two-game audition with two goals and an assist, while delivering several bone-crushing hits and drawing a handful of penalties. He's hoping it was enough to catch the eye of Flames management.
"Hopefully the management liked what they saw and hopefully they give me a long look next year," Aliu said. "That's all I can really ask for. They've been so great to me that I can't really think too much ahead. Hopefully they give me an opportunity and I'll make the most of it."
A pair of quick goals in the final minute of the second period by two defensemen helped Karlsson end the skid.
Bouwmeester skipped a weak shot over the shoulder of Ducks starter Jonas Hiller
with 42.1 seconds remaining in the period before Anton Babchuk
's blast whizzed by the Anaheim starter 25 seconds later.
The two goals came after killing a lengthy 5-on-3 that saw Karlsson stop Corey Perry
's crease scramble, Jason Blake
's one-timer and a redirection off the stick of Devante Smith-Pelly
, three of Karlsson's 23 saves in the game.
It was the second two-man advantage the Ducks received in the period. Bobby Ryan
scored on the first at 13:33 after firing a Ryan Getzlaf
pass along the ice that snuck through Karlsson's pads.
Aliu added his second of the night 7:24 into the third period. Bouwmeester's wrist shot hit Aliu's skate while he was trying to jump out of the way of the puck, redirecting it behind Hiller to give the Flames a 4-1 lead.
extended that lead to 5-1 with 2:42 remaining in the game. Stempniak walked around Getzlaf and fired a shot that was blocked by Francois Beauchemin
. Stempniak retrieved the puck and beat Hiller for his 14th of the season.
Ryan finished the scoring with 26.8 seconds remaining, coming out of the corner and wrapping the puck around Karlsson to make it 5-2.
Aliu started the scoring in the first period on Calgary's opening shot of the game.
Attempting to center the puck to a streaking Michael Cammalleri
skating through the slot, Aliu's pass redirected off the skate of Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa
and behind Hiller for his first career goal and a 1-0 lead 4:01 into the game.
"It's something you think about your whole life, but you can never plan for it. You can never know what the feelings are going to be like," Aliu said. "I think when it happens, you don't believe it for the first while to enjoy it. It was incredible."
He does, however, plan on painting a prettier picture when describing his first in the future, suggesting he instead, "Toe-dragged Lubomir Visnovsky
and put it off the bar."
While the game could be the start to a promising career for Aliu, it could also be the last for future Hall of Fame member Teemu Selanne
, who was held pointless by the Flames.
"It obviously was tough to finish the season like this," Selanne said. "Not making the playoffs, it's very disappointing. Our first half was so bad and we played pretty well in the second half, so that's a little better news."
The 41-year-old didn't have an immediate answer for what the future holds.
"My whole situation, I don't really know," Selanne admitted. "I'm going to take a little time off and think about things and value some things and see what happens. I still had a great time. Every day I had a huge smile on my face to come to the rink. That's something that's most important for me."