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Familiarity breeds confidence for Flames

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

We went into that game knowing we needed to win one of the next two games. And we won that game against LA, which solidified the playoffs for us. It's a lot like [Saturday] -- if we win [Saturday], it solidifies us into the second round. Mason Raymond

CALGARY, AB -- Stop if you’ve heard this one before.

Two games remaining. Need one win.

Have one of two remaining dates on home ice. Win and the season is extended.

It’s the exact scenario the Calgary Flames faced in the final few days of the regular season.

A win against either the Los Angeles Kings or Winnipeg Jets in the final two games of Calgary's schedule would ensure the Flames would head to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years.

Now, up 3-2, a win against the Vancouver Canucks in either Game 6 or 7 of the Western Conference First Round series would ensure Calgary a trip into the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years and just the second time since hoisting the Stanley Cup in 1989.

“It's experience, right?” Flames forward Mason Raymond questioned. “You've kind of been through it a little bit and you know a little bit what to expect. We went into that game knowing we needed to win one of the next two games. And we won that game against LA, which solidified the playoffs for us. It's a lot like [Saturday] -- if we win [Saturday], it solidifies us into the second round.

“So there's definitely similarities.

“There is comfort level. You go through those situations, so it makes you a little more comfortable. Again, this is the funnest time of year to play. I've been lucky enough to play in some playoff games and some big games, and they're a blast. This is what you live for, this is what you play for.”

In a win-and-you’re-in game, the 81st of the regular season, the Flames were able to punch their ticket to the postseason by dispatching the reigning Stanley Cup champion Kings by a score of 3-1 in what most skaters referred to as their most complete effort of the year.

“I thought everybody was ready to play and compete,” said goaltender Jonas Hiller, who made 33 saves -- including 13 in the third period -- to clinch the playoff berth. “We knew what was on the line and I think we've done that all season long. Every time we had to face a new challenge we found a way to step it up.

“We have to do it again [Saturday] and I think every individual has to come here to the rink and be prepared to give a little extra than what we're used to. It worked out well against LA but we've got to do it again [Saturday] night.”

Earlier in April, Calgary had two cracks to get to this point. They got it done on the first try.

The Flames earned three chances to advance to the second round for the first time since 2004.

Their first came in Vancouver on Thursday, a 2-1 loss that leaves them in a position nearly identical to one faced two weeks prior.

And it should lend confidence, according to coach Bob Hartley.

“We’re in the same situation as a few days ago when the LA Kings showed up here and then we went to Winnipeg and we had to win one of two,” Hartley said. “We took care of business. We took care of the defending Stanley Cup Champions in our barn in front of our fans.

“[Saturday] it’s exactly the same challenge and we believe in ourselves. I like my player’s demeanor. They are on their toes, they believe, and as a coach, I can not be any more proud of my group.”

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