It's big. It’s only two points but they’re a little bigger than others. That was a gut-check after a tough loss last night. - Joe Colborne
NEWARK, NJ -- Two points earned against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday might’ve been as important for the mentality of the Calgary Flames as it was for the NHL standings.
Having lost three straight, including the opener of a season-high seven-game road trip to the New York Rangers on Tuesday, the Flames rallied in Newark and climbed back into a playoff position in the Western Conference.
“It’s big,” Flames forward Joe Colborne said. “It’s only two points but they’re a little bigger than others. That was a gut-check after a tough loss last night.
“There are no more, I guess, loose games. It’s an absolute…it’s tight out there. We have a huge one against a very good hard-working team coming up and we have to be ready for it.”
Calgary jumped ahead of the Minnesota Wild and back into the second of two-wild card positions in the West. At 70 points, the Flames are locked with the Los Angeles Kings and lead the Wild by one point. Both the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets sit three points up.
“We need to stay in the race,” coach Bob Hartley said. “We’re going to go back home but at the same time, win on the road…there’s not a better thing for team confidence then winning road games, especially after last night’s game. Two games in two nights, we respond with that kind of effort. There’s lot of character in our locker room.
“It’s the battle we’re in. Minnesota and LA got on a big hot streak. They climbed right back up. We’re stuck in the mix. We’re with Vancouver, Winnipeg, LA, Minnesota, all those great teams. For us, I think it’s a great learning experience and at the same time we’re not going to sit and say ‘we’re here to learn’. We’re here to win and we’re here to be in the playoffs.”
Goals 49 seconds apart sandwiched around the second intermission to pace Calgary to the win.
Curtis Glencross redirected a backhand saucer pass off the stick of Colborne behind Cory Schneider with 14 seconds left in the second period, while Sean Monahan deflected Mark Giordano’s shot-pass by the Devils starter just 35 seconds into the third.
“That’s who we are,” Hartley said. “We always find a way to battle back. We’re a young team. We just want to go. We keep attacking and attacking. That’s the DNA of our hockey club. Yesterday we were not good enough. Tonight we found a way, scoring that late goal in the second period. It gave us some momentum and then that early power play goal.
“Those two goals were the difference in the game.”
It’s only going to get tighter as the games get more intense, Colborne declared.
“The way its going right now with how tight it is and how defensive it’s becoming,” started Colborne, “you can expect to see a lot of low-scoring, high-intensity games with a lot of guys backchecking and not giving up too much.”
That intensity isn’t going to slow the Flames, who return to action Friday against the New York Islanders.
“In our battle right now, in our situation where we’re at, we’re going to have all summer to rest,” Hartley said. “We’re in the fight. For this organization, for many years we have not been in the playoffs and we’re all in. Whatever’s left of us at the end of the season we’ll be able to look at everyone right in the eyes and say we gave it all and tonight is just (more) proof.”