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FLAMES FOCUSING ON ONE GAME AT A TIME

While the Flames are pleased with their winning streak, they taking it one day at a time

by AARON VICKERS @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

The buzz hadn't dissipated a day later.

Defending Stanley Cup Champions.

Overtime. Shootout.

Victory.

Ten in a row.

"It was great," said forward Johnny Gaudreau, who scored a highlight reel goal before watching Kris Versteeg net the deciding goal in a 4-3, franchise-record tying slobber-knocking win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday night.

"It was a huge game for us. Important game for us. Important game for them as well.

"I'm sure it was a lot of fun for the fans and it was a lot of fun for us too. It was a blast out there. Both went back and forth. Went to overtime and a shootout.

"It was a lot of excitement for us on the bench there." 

No foolin'.  

Sidney Crosby tied the game late in the third period, on a goal unsuccessfully challenged to be goaltender interference by the Flames, to force overtime and add another layer of drama.

Mark Giordano was tagged with a minor penalty that gave Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and defencemen Justin Schultz two minutes and four shots to beat goalie Brian Elliott in the extra session. They couldn't.

That trio of forwards also failed to squeeze one by Elliott in the shootout, making Versteeg's goal the lone one in victory -- Calgary's 10th straight to matched a run team-best set as the Atlanta Flames from Oct. 14 to Nov. 3, 1978.

"You definitely enjoy it in the moment," Elliott said. "When you come back in here you're still just getting ready for the next one right away and getting the body right and the mind right.

"You can't really sit back and revel in the victories." 

Not with games every second day for the remainder of the regular season.

Not with the Boston Bruins visiting the 'Dome on Wednesday (7 p.m. MT; SN, SN960).

And not with the Flames pushing to create room around the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers in the chase for second in the Pacific Division.

"Emotionally, you have to get ready for the next one," Giordano said. "The fear now is after these type of games the next one you have a letdown. But we have another great team coming in so it should be a lot of the same."

And if it's not a record-setting 11th straight win?

"We'd like it to last as long as it can and we're going to do everything we can to continue this streak but we can't get discouraged if and when it does stop," forward Troy Brouwer said. "We've just got to go right back knowing there's a bigger thing at stake, rather than just a streak.

"We have a streak to put us in a good spot in a playoff position, and at the end of the day we'll cross that bridge when we get there."

Whenever, wherever it ends, the streak has managed to put the home side in a comfortable position. 

But it's also moved the measuring sticks. The Oilers and Ducks are no longer the goal. 

Welcome the Pacific-leading San Jose Sharks to the equation.

"A little while ago we were just trying to battle to stay in the playoff picture and now we've put ourselves in a great spot with 13 games left," said Brouwer, whose group is seven points back of the Sharks.

"We have an opportunity to catch first in our division and the fact that we play them two more times, the fact that the quality of our opponents down the stretch are just going to prepare us more for what we need. 

"We always want to set goals for ourselves and at the beginning of the year making the playoffs was a goal. Now that we're 13 games left we want to be able to try to get first in our division." 

Brace yourselves for more buzz, it seems. 

A fair bit of excitement, too.

"This is the fun part of the season, the exciting part of the season," Gaudreau said. "You can see our guys, how excited they are about it too. It's good. 

"We've been playing great.

"We've got to keep this thing going."

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