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REGULAR SEASON'S A WRAP

Flames waiting to find out playoff opponent after losing finale in San Jose

by AARON VICKERS @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

SAN JOSE -- The Calgary Flames know where they'll finish. 
 
They don't know where they'll start the Stanley Cup playoffs, though. 
 
Curtis Lazar scored his first goal with the Flames and Brian Elliott and David Rittich combined to make 24 saves in a 3-1 loss at the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center in Calgary's regular-season finale on Saturday.  
 
The Flames still await their playoff opponent. 
 
"We're going to be prepared," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "What I like most is our health and the energy we have. I think our team is well rested. I think we have lots of juice. I like where we're sitting. I'm ready to get it going."

Calgary clinched the first wild card position in the Western Conference when the Nashville Predators lost 2-1 at the Winnipeg Jets earlier Saturday and the Flames will start the playoffs against either the Anaheim Ducks or Edmonton Oilers. 
 
The Oilers moved to within two points of the Ducks with a 3-2 win at the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Edmonton trails Anaheim by two points for first in the Pacific Division, and each team has one game remaining. 
 
"We've got to dig in here and prepare for two scenarios," Gulutzan said. "We'll get to work tomorrow. Give the guys the day off tomorrow and we'll put together something. We've got something in the works for Monday after practice. We'll get our guys together. 
 
"We're healthy. We've got some work to do as a staff, then we'll get the guys prepared."

Video: Ryan Leslie reviews loss to end the regular season
 
Chris Tierney, Mikkel Boedker and Daniel O'Regan scored and Aaron Dell made 20 saves for the Sharks, who finish third in the Pacific. 
 
Tierney put San Jose up 1-0 after converting on a pass down low from Jannik Hansen 5:52 into the second period and Boedker scored at 18:07 to extend the lead to 2-0. 
 
Lazar, who hit the post on a rush in the first period, scored his first goal with the Flames to make it 2-1 when he converted on a cross-crease pass from Matthew Tkachuk with 5.2 seconds remaining in the second. 

"It was huge," Lazar said. "For it to happen in the last regular-season game does nothing but good things for my confidence. Getting that first one as a Flame out of the way is nice, but also erasing the goose egg that I had in the goal column and saying I didn't go goalless within a season is pretty good."

Video: CGY@SJS: Tkachuk sets up Lazar's first of the season
 
Lazar has three points in his four games with Calgary since being acquired by from the Ottawa Senators at the NHL trade deadline. He had one point, an assist, in 33 games with Ottawa.  
 
"The coaching staff has allowed me to play my game and thrown me out in situations where I can succeed and build my confidence," he said. "I'm building from that. I'm having fun again. I'm just playing. The hesitation is out of my head. I'm really enjoying myself."
 
O'Regan scored his first NHL goal at 11:25 of the third period to make it 3-1. Marc-Edouard Vlasic's shot deflected off the stick of Dennis Wideman before tipping off O'Regan and by Rittich, who started the third period for the Flames. 
 
Rittich made nine saves in 20 minutes in his NHL debut.
 
"For me it's a good experience, for sure," Rittich said. "(The) NHL is more quick than the AHL. The players are smarter than the AHL. That maybe is the biggest difference."
 
NOTES: Defenceman Rasmus Andersson also made his NHL debut. He finished with four hits and two blocked shots in 18:36 of ice time. Matt Bartkowski and Freddie Hamilton also finished with four hits. With his assist on Lazar's goal, Tkachuk reaches 35 helpers on the season. Dougie Hamilton also assisted on Lazar's goal to give him 50 points this year. Forwards Mikael Backlund and Kris Versteeg and defencemen Mark Giordano and Deryk Engelland were healthy scratches for rest. Goaltender Chad Johnson missed the game because of a lower-body injury.
 
UP NEXT: Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round (TBD). 
 
(With files from Torie Peterson)

 

 

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