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PLAYOFF TIME

Flames fall in final game of regular season to Oilers, now setting sights on first-round post-season matchup with Avalanche

by TY PILSON @typilson / CalgaryFlames.com

It was Fan Appreciation Night at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.

But really, it's been a Fan Appreciation Season all campaign.

Because there's no doubt the C of Red faithful have been treated to a heckuva run to this point.

The Flames fell 3-1 to the Edmonton Oilers in the 82nd and final game of the regular season but in the grand scheme of things, it meant little.

What mattered was the Flames had already clinched the Pacific Division and Western Conference regular-season titles, guaranteeing home-ice advantage for at least the first three rounds.

And they had finished with the second-best record in franchise history, notching 50 wins and piling up 107 points.

Worth noting, it was their first 50-win season since the Stanley Cup-winning side from 1988-89.

The focus now is to see if they can repeat the feat of hoisting Lord Stanley's sacred chalice over their heads.

 

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"I think it's good to get the regular season over with now and crank it up and take it to that next level," said captain Mark Giordano after the tilt. "We have a few really good days for practice and we'll prepare for them.

"Really nice to get the season over with."

The them in question - the Colorado Avalanche.

The Flames first-round dance partner was set after the Dallas Stars beat the Minnesota Wild 3-0 earlier Saturday night, prior to the crew from the Mile High City playing a late tilt in San Jose against the Sharks.

The Flames went 3-0 against the Avs this season.

Back to Saturday night to tie a bow on the regular season, all eyes were on No. 13 to see if Johnny Hockey could hit 100 points.

Ironically, against the Oilers, he got one assist to end the year with 99, setting a new career high in that department.

"Ya, you know, no big deal," smiled Gaudreau when asked about the century mark. "Obviously a good season, not only for me but from every single player in here. It's been a lot of fun being part of this team - and, you know, the fun's just about to start here. We're looking forward to the playoffs and getting things started."

 

Video: "The fun is just about to start."

 

In a scary moment early in the second period, Giordano got tied up with a hard-cutting Connor McDavid, the Oilers captain crashing into the Flames net, knocking it off its moorings.

He stayed down for more than four minutes favouring his left leg, before being helped off the ice by teammate Zack Kassian and an athletic therapist and not putting any weight on it as he was slowly assisted down the hall to the Edmonton dressing room.

He didn't return to the game.

"I feel terrible," said Giordano post-game, who had asked how McDavid was doing and was concerned. "You try to obviously dive and get the puck. You never want to see (someone get hurt) ... he's the best player in the game, so we need him in the game.  

"I honestly thought I could get that puck when I dove for it and watching the replay, I missed it and my stick sort of trips him."

 

Video: "I hope he's okay. I'll reach out to him."

 

The game was a bit of a track meet in the first period, with both teams exchanging plenty of good chances.

Both teams mustered 11 shots in the opening frame, with Mike Smith stopping McDavid on the two of the Oilers' best.

After a Calgary turnover in their zone left McDavid all alone in front of the net with the puck, Smith made a sprawling save to absolutely rob him on a forehand-backhand-forehand attempt.

Later after Gaudreau was denied by Mikko Koskinen on a partial breakway with Matt Benning draped on him, McDavid getting his own solo dash right away, trying a nifty between the legs shot from in tight that Smith again made a huge stop on.

Leon Draisaitl - one of the few bright spots for the Oilers this season - took a tough angle shot before getting another crack and making good to notch his 50th goal of the season, opening the scoring at the 10:55 mark.  

Just over five minutes later, Gaudreau collected that 99th point getting the second assist on Mark Jankowski's 14th of the campaign.

The Flames dynamo passed to Travis Hamonic, whose point shot slowly made its way through traffic and was tipped home by No. 77.

Former Flame Alex Chiasson scored on a powerplay with Giordano in the box for the tripping call on the McDavid play in the second. Smith got a piece of a point shot but it squeaked through his pads and sat in the blue paint behind him, Chiasson poking it into the cage.

Calgary continued to press hard in the middle stanza, with Koskinen stopping an in-tight shot from a driving Derek Ryan and then kicking out his right pad twice on a Calgary powerplay, first stopping a Rasmus Andersson point shot and then coming across the net to deny Mikael Backlund.

Darnell Nurse had the lone marker in the third to round out the scoring.

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