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George Johnson: From low of almost-lost late goal, to incredible high of Brodie OT winner

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

It's amazing how 19,000 people gathered together in an enclosed space can suddenly go utterly silent.

In unison.

For a stuck-in-super-slow-mo couple of moments around 9:30 p.m. inside the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday evening, time, noise, everything, seemed to slow. Then stop.

"It kinda hit everything on Gio and then everything on me," recalled Flames goalie Brian Elliott later. "I didn't want to move cause I didn't hear anybody screaming or shouting.

"At that point, you're just wondering.

"And hoping."

Only seven seconds remained in regulation time on the scoreclock. Game tied 1-1.

And a flinging shot from L.A. defenceman Jake Muzzin had banked off Calgary Flames' skipper Mark Giordano, executed an abrupt about-face, leaving Elliott desperately grasping for an answer.

"Honestly, I thought it had a good shot of going in,'' confessed Giordano.

"I knew Moose didn't really have it. But the reaction of the crowd sorta made me think to look behind him or to the side of him because it was trickling.

"Sure enough, it was.

"I yelled out 'You've got it!' to him. You don't want him to fall back because you could bang it in."

Video: Giordano on the big extra point

Somehow, Elliott's quick reaction managed to keep the puck out of the net. Still, it had squirmed behind him and lay there, completely still. Giordano then alertly swooped in to the rescue.

Crisis averted.

Because not so very long afterwards, 1:47 into overtime to be precise, a superb Mikael Backlund outlet pass to T.J. Brodie provided the Flames with another vital win, 2-1, in a claustrophic, playoff-style conquest of the chasing, desperate Los Angeles Kings.

"I knew they had a couple guys behind our net,'' said Brodie, who ruined goaltender Ben Bishop's L.A. debut with the nifty breakaway backhand. 

"I just thought I'd take off, at least make them stay out. I knew they'd been out there for a long shift already.

"I figured the worst that could happen is Backs skates it in and I get a change. I saw the middle of the ice open up and Backs made a great pass."

The surging Flames have now strung together five Ws in a row, taken at least a point from six straight and lost only two games in regulation over their most recent 13.

"We are dug into playing the right way,'' praised coach Glen Gulutzan. "We're confident and we should be. We're a good hockey team and we've been trying to build that up all season, right from the start.

"In a game like this your emotion could get the best of you but I thought our guys did a good job of staying with it."

The Flames have taken dead aim at one of the three automatic post-season spots available from the Pacific Division.

Giordano, again, was immense on the blueline. Once again, he set the emotional tone, absolutely crushing L.A.'s feisty Dustin Brown with a savage, totally clean bodycheck.

"Live, I don't think I've seen a harder hit,'' marvelled Gulutzan. "For me, in the last six years, that's one of the hardest."

Video: LAK@CGY: Giordano lays a big check on Brown

Hard to believe Brown bounced back up.

"On his part, he's trying to take a hit to make a play and get the puck out,'' said Giordano.

"When you get those opportunities against top players, you've got to take them."

Despite playing Monday night in Minnesota, the Kings counted the only goal of the first period.

With Matt Stajan serving a contentious tripping minor, Kings' left-winger Tanner Pearson compounded Calgary's dissatisfaction, scoring an equally contentious go-ahead goal.

Elliott found himself on all fours, trying desperately to cover the puck inside the blue paint as Pearson, taking up squatter's rights kitty-corner to the post, began to root industriously away.

One prod. Nope.

A second whack. Nada.

Finally, voila!, on a third attempt, it just crept over the hog line.

The indignation from the Flames was immediate.

Initially the play went under review to determine if a puck had indeed crossed the line.

After the goal was upheld, Gulutzan immediately challenged on the grounds of goaltender interference.

That was then over-ruled.

"I don't agree with the call,'' sighed Eliott afterwards, "but we didn't put our heads down.

"We pushed forward. I think it lit a bit of fire because in the second period we really responded. I was kinda lonely at the other end of the ice, only a couple shots.

"And the guys did all the work from there, kept grinding away."

Calgary equalized at 9:44 of the second period.

Giordano kept the puck inside the L.A. line at the left point, and it spit back towards Bishop's net.

Set up on a tee, Ferland pivoted and crushed his driver, the shot exploding past Bishop's blocker.

The big man's fourth goal in five games.

As they've made their playoff push through a fabulous February, holding it together at the back has been Elliott, now 13-4-2 in his past 19 starts.

"It's just building,'' he insisted, deflecting praise. "For everybody.

"It's coming together.

"It's everybody talking on the ice. Everybody communicating. It just makes things easier.

"You see the puck well. You've got some big bodies in front but we're blocking shots, pushing the puck forward those first five hard strides, getting it in and working it deep.

"I feel like I'm talking in cliches all the time but that's the way you win."

Video: Elliott says early Kings goal lit a fire under Flames

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