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CONTROLLING THEIR FATE

With a regulation win tomorrow, the Flames would clinch a postseason berth

by AARON VICKERS @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

For a time, Mark Giordano perched himself in the press box high above Scotiabank Saddledome ice.

Not close enough for the captain.

He retreated down to the bowels of the basement of the 'Dome to be part of the action.

To be a part of the clincher.

To be part of the 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on April 9, 2015 that sent the Calgary Flames back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009.

"When you're watching it's more nerve-wracking than playing," said Giordano, who was relegated to spectator after sustaining a torn biceps muscle a month and a half prior that ended his season.   

"You want to be down here if and when the guys win to congratulate them. It was cool. You don't forget the experience. I know I haven't played in a long time, but even playing a long time ago in playoffs here … you don't forget that.

"The emotion and the energy in the building was second-to-none. It was great to be here, be a part of it. 

"Hopefully this year we get in and get to experience that on the ice."

Video: Hallett talks about one win away from a playoff berth

They'll have the chance.

Certainly the emotion will return.

Perhaps fittingly, the Kings will return too.

Calgary will have the opportunity to clinch a second playoff appearance in the past three years when they host Los Angeles at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (7 p.m. MT; SNW, SN960).

"We've been pushing all season long," forward Johnny Gaudreau said. "One of our goals to start the season was to make the playoffs again. You can see how excited the guys are. It's been good.

"I think it's a lot easier for your team and your group if you're deciding your own fate. You're not hoping another team loses and another team wins or another team loses in overtime.

"For us it's just win and you're in the playoffs. 

"Hopefully we can clinch against these guys again."

Video: Gaudreau on the playoff push, little brother signing

Gaudreau scored 7:45 into the game to put the Flames up 1-0 some two years ago. Now-Dallas Stars forward Jiri Hudler stepped into a slap shot that skipped off the end glass and back into the slot, and Gaudreau connected on a rebound that landed on Jonathan Quick's arm before crossing the goal line.

"Guys were excited … a little nervous at time," Gaudreau said. "After your first shift the nerves go away. We kind of just had fun. It was a big game for us. We took the lead early there and played well the whole game."

Hudler put the Flames up 2-0 with another slap shot by Quick's blocker at 14:28 of the first, but Jordan Nolan scored five minutes into the third period to cut that lead back down to one.

"It was pretty intense," forward Matt Stajan said. "We knew what was at stake. I think we knew that it was pretty much a Game 7. It was a playoff game. You felt the tension, definitely, in the city. Coming to the rink and in the room there was a lot of tension."

The score held until Hudler found the back of an empty net with 50 seconds remaining in regulation to punch Calgary's ticket.

"It was such relief," Gaudreau said. "We worked all season long with all the comebacks that year and everything. All our hard work paid off after that one game.

"Hopefully we can get that again." 

It's been set up that way.

Calgary has created a 13-point gap on the Kings -- the only remaining team on the outside looking in that can mathematically catch the Flames.

A win in regulation Wednesday squashes that threat.

Sound familiar? 

"We're going to be playing a desperate team, which is the same case," Stajan said. "They're playing for their season. I don't think they want it to end two weeks before it's over. 

"The difference is we're in a better spot and we still have a chance to try to sneak in and get some home ice and position ourselves a little better. They're similar. It's a totally different season in a lot of ways and we have a different team, but the scenario is similar.

"We control our own fate.

"It's important that we can do something tomorrow night and get the 'X' beside our name and start building towards the playoffs."

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