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Ramo, Stajan power Flames over Rangers 4-1

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames have no clear-cut No.1 goaltender heading into the season. Karri Ramo is doing his best to change that.

The 27-year-old Finnish goaltender made 27 saves while Matt Stajan pieced together a three-point night as the Flames trumped the New York Rangers 4-1 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday night.

In a fight with Reto Berra and veteran Joey MacDonald for Calgary's crease, Ramo was near flawless as his workload increased over three periods, frustrating New York shooters on second and third chance offerings over 60 minutes.

"He's working hard like [MacDonald] and Reto," coach Bob Hartley said. "We're very happy with the three guys but certainly tonight he gave us a very good game.

"He came up with the big saves at the right time. I felt that we protected the front of the net fairly well but the thing that I wanted to see from him was that he felt confident on every shot and that's exactly what we saw."

With Calgary still searching for their goaltender on opening night against the Washington Capitals on October 3rd, Ramo took a step forward in securing the job. He's not keeping tabs, though.

"That's not my job to think about that," Ramo said. "It goes to the coaching and management to think about that. I just have to [do] everything that I can on and off the ice, (so) that they will choose me."

Though he wasn't tested early, Stajan made sure Ramo's counterpart, Henrik Lundqvist, had plenty of work in the first period.

Six minutes in, Stajan spun and chopped Dennis Wideman's pass onto the tape of a streaking Curtis Glencross to spring the Flames forward on a partial breakaway. Glencross fired a shot that caught a piece of the Lundqvist's glove and bounced into the net for a 1-0 lead.

"That's where I know he's going to be," Stajan said. "There's a lot of broken plays in hockey but when you trust your centreman and I trust my winger, you can make plays like that."

Ramo's audition continued after he kicked his pad to deny Brandon Mashinter's offering from the slot just two minutes into the second period.

Stajan's second assist of the night just four minutes later the save.

Skating four aside with Lance Bouma and Arron Asham in the penalty box, Stajan centered the puck onto the stick of Dennis Wideman, who dropped a shoulder and decked Lundqvist, lifting the puck over the downed Rangers goaltender for a 2-0 advantage and his team-leading fourth goal of the preseason.

Ramo went back to work after the goal, deflecting Danny Kristo's partial breakaway attempt with his shoulder near the midway mark of the game.

But the 27-year-old couldn't stop Marc Staal at 16:12.

With Mark Giordano whistled for tripping, Staal found the puck in a crease scramble and lifted it over Ramo to cut the lead to 2-1.

The goal served as Ramo's only blemish on the night as he saved his best for the third period.

Eight minutes into the final frame, Ramo stopped Darroll Powe's initial shot from the slot, then stopped both Asham and Taylor Pyatt on the doorstep trying to jam the puck across the line. He was equally successful on consecutive saves off Oscar Lindberg and Pyatt with both his pad and glove at 10:41.

The saves gave Stajan enough time to restore Calgary's two-goal cushion.

Working the puck down low, Lee Stempniak found Glencross behind the net who in turn fed Stajan in the slot. He stepped into the pass and beat Lundqvist at 12:11 for the 3-1 lead.

"That's a good feeling as a player when you're walking down the middle and you have time and you see a puck coming at you not too fast and you can step into one," Stajan said. "That's something as a player, you can't wait for."

"The hockey gods gave me a break and I'll take it."

Lance Bouma made it a 4-1 final after burying the puck into an empty net with 4.6 seconds remaining in the game to preserve Ramo's first win in his first home start at Scotiabank Saddledome.

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