There’s lots of long faces in this locker room. They wanted to keep going. I’m very proud of our group. Tonight is not a good night. It’s a tough loss to swallow but at the same time, we knew that with a young team, we had to take some lessons. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- The run is over.
And while there will undoubtedly -- and understandably -- disappointment in how the season came to a close, it was a successful season for the Calgary Flames.
On a number of levels.
“Great effort. It’s sad, but our season is over,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “The boys battled hard. There’s lots of long faces in this locker room. They wanted to keep going. I’m very proud of our group. Tonight is not a good night. It’s a tough loss to swallow but at the same time, we knew that with a young team, we had to take some lessons and tonight, it’s a tough one, but it’s going to be a good lesson.
“Looking at the season, looking at the playoffs, especially tonight’s game, the Ducks stepped it up. Third period and OT, we had no answers to them.”
Calgary’s season was ended by Corey Perry, 2:26 into overtime in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Anaheim Ducks.
Perry’s goal, a series and season ender, left the Flames wanting more in a year where so many expected so little.
“You lose a game, you lose a game,” said Karri Ramo, the goaltender of record in the loss. “It doesn’t matter right now. We’re down now. It’s a pretty empty feeling. It’s a tough team we played against. I think we can be pretty proud. The first game we got run over, but we regrouped pretty well and kept playing better and better all the time. It’s a pretty bad feeling right now.
“The way we were playing and battling and now it’s over. I think everybody had a lot more to give and a lot more left. We gave everything, but right now it’s really empty.”
Calgary dropped Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim before rebounding with a win in Game 3. But a loss in Game 4 -- their first on home ice in the playoffs -- put the Flames on the brink of elimination.
A loss Sunday at Honda Center finished the job.
“I think we grew as a group. We got better every game,” forward David Jones said. “Guys were playing really hard. We can’t fault anyone. It’s just an unlucky bounce. It’s really too bad. I think everyone on this team…it’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey, going back and playing in front of the ‘C of Red’.
"We just wanted to get back there for one more game and then see what happens but we just couldn’t get it done tonight.”
There are plenty of positives to take from the series, playoffs and season.
And while the Flames won’t necessarily see them hours after a stunning loss that saw the Ducks flip the script and earn the win after heading into the third period trailing, they're still present.
The playoffs, wins and losses, are valuable to the rebuilding club.
“There’s a lot of experience that we gained,” forward Joe Colborne said. “It’s tough to think about that right now. It’s pretty fresh. It sucks. We put a lot of work in this year. We surprised some people, but the next few days we’ll probably come to think of the positives.
"It’s just a little hard right now.”
But in the bigger picture, the Flames are well served.
“The investment that we put in in those young players in those playoffs, whether against the (Vancouver) Canucks or against the Ducks, it’s priceless,” Hartley said. “Now they know how hard you need to suffer to win some games and the pace, how unbelievable the pace is. Now they know.
“It doesn’t mean that it’s guaranteed success but at least it’s another page in our book and obviously I like the way that this group moved forward this year and we still have a long way to go but those playoffs are certainly a huge investment for them and also for the entire organization.”