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Game Rush: Flames vs. Coyotes

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
FINAL

2-1


CALGARY, AB -- After the Colorado Avalanche lost 5-1 to the Anaheim Ducks, the Calgary Flames had a chance to pull within two points of a playoff position. They came out with one of their biggest games of the season.

The line of Ales Kotalik, Mikael Backlund and Rene Bourque played extremely well for their club, contributing both goals and combining for three points.

"It feels to chip in on team success and I think everybody played a good game," said Kotalik, who netted the game winner. "I was just lucky to score that second goal that happens to be a game winner in the end. This is a really important time and I'm just happy to help the team win hockey games."

Kotalik said that while the team knew they were in a tough spot after two losses on their Eastern Conference road trip but the team hasn't stopped believing they can make the postseason.

"We never try to look at it like we don't have a chance. Nothing is over till it's over and right now we're in a very good position. We got a little help today and it feels good going into Colorado right now. Hopefully we can come out with a big effort. It's the most important game of the year and we can close them.

"It's worthless looking in the past and we've got to look forward. I think we're in a pretty good position right now."

Backlund had a rough start to his game, handing the puck over in front of Miikka Kiprusoff a few times early in the first period. He came back with an impressive second frame where he won several key faceoffs and made a huge shot block in the dying seconds to prevent a Coyotes goal.

"I had way too many turnovers in the first and I knew I had to play better and pick up my game in the second period. I had a really good shift at the end (of the second period) and I was really happy the puck hit me."

The rookie credited his linemates for his success, saying that he's trying to keep his game as simple as he can.

"We just have good chemistry. They're two great players I play with so for me, I'm just trying to make plays," he grinned.

Bourque opened the scoring at 14:23 of the second period. With defenseman Mathieu Schneider in the box for holding, the Flames power play unit went to work. Ian White hopped into the played and wired a shot from the hash marks as Bourque parked himself in front of the net. The winger managed to get his stick on the shot and deflected the puck over Jason LaBarbera's shoulder.

The Flames gained a two-goal lead in the third period thanks to Kotalik's third as a Flame. Kotalik sent low, hard shot from the hash marks that squeaked past LaBarbera stick side. It was Kotalik's second goal in as many games.

The Coyotes weren't going to go away quietly and Lee Stempniak was able to tip the puck just over the line at 13:08. That was all the desert dogs could muster though and they headed home winless from their two-game Western Canada road swing.

The Flames head into Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche in what may be the biggest game of the regular season for both clubs. Game time is 7:30 PM MST on Sportsnet West & The FAN 960.

WHY THE FLAMES WON
Miikka Kiprusoff was absolutely rock solid in net for the Flames, stopping 29 of 30 shots, and his clutch saves at key times in both the first and third period kept the Flames in the game. Overall, the Flames had a complete team effort and played a responsible game in front of their own for the majority of the game. The Kotalik-Backlund-Bourque line was particularly effective in both scoring and backchecking.

GAME NOTES
The Flames lineup remained the same with Calgary sitting out D Adam Pardy, F Brian McGrattan, F Christopher Higgins, F Curtis Glencross and F Daymond Langkow. The Coyotes scratched D Zbynek Michalek, F Robert Lang, Paul Bissonnette, F Viktor Tikhonov and F Petteri Nokelainen.

TONIGHT'S DIGITS
25 - Goals for Bourque in 68 games this season.

4 - Shots on net for both Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano.

100 - Jamal Mayers faceoff win percentage.

3 - Hits for Cory Sarich.

1 - Games needed for Eric Nystrom to reach 200.

QUOTABLE
"You've got to prepare yourself. You always want to try to play your best game, no matter what time of the season it is. Friday's game is big. It's the biggest game in awhile that I've played and we've got to prepare ourselves to win." - Kotalik

"We're definitely in a better position now than we were on the weekend. Two wins and Colorado loses a couple ... Friday's going to be the biggest game of the year." - Bourque

"It was a hard fought battle out there. It was nice to see us get some help and it's exciting. You're working that hard to do your part and get a little bit of help it brightens your day." - Sarich on the Colorado loss

"Right now, just being good isn't good enough. We need excellence." - Head coach Brent Sutter

HARDEST WORKING FLAMES

Prust

Kiprusoff

Bourque
Miikka Kiprusoff
Held his team in with key saves, stopped 29 of 30 shots.
Rene Bourque
Great deflection goal, 3 shots, 1 blocked shot and 1 hit.
Ales Kotalik
Scored his 2nd in as many games, 2 shots in 14:23 ice time.



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