The Flames are slowly getting bodies back from the sick bay and Lance Bouma, Blair Jones and Chris Butler all returned to action on Thursday night.
Jones centered the third period, playing in between Lee Stempniak and Blake Comeau. Bouma was placed at center ice with Tom Kostopoulos and Tim Jackman flanking him. Butler was paired with Jay Bouwmeester, his partner for the vast majority of the season.
POWER PLAY CLICKS
After their 2-1 OT loss in Denver, head coach Brent Sutter was dismayed with his team's inability to convert on the power play. They reviewed their strategies before Thursday's tilt with the Wild and it worked.
Stempniak opened the scoring during the Flames third crack with a man advantage. Butler's shot bounced off the boards and the winger was able to grab the puck off a scramble in front of the net. He calmy wristed it past Harding to earn his 13th goal of the year. Bouwmeester also assisted on the tally.
Anton Babchuk notched his first of the season at 1:38 of the second period during a 5-on-3 opportunity. Tom Gilbert was in the sin bin for four minutes after getting called for high-sticking and Nate Prosser got his ticket to the box shortly after when he closed his hand on the puck. The ensuing 5-on-3 power play was all Flames and Babchuk was able to beat Harding with his patented blast from the point.
UNRULY IN THE SECOND
After the Wild took several undisciplined penalties, the Flames responded by taking a few of their own.
First, Curtis Glencross took a slashing call at 8:15 and the Wild managed to beat Miikka Kiprusoff during their power play. Dany Heatley wired a wicked one-timer that flew past the netminder at 8:36.
Bouwmeester was then called for interference at 12:38. While killing off the penalty, Comeau was sent to the penalty box for high sticking, giving the Wild a 0:35 5-on-3 opportunity. The penalty killers hunkered down and the Flames managed to walk away unscathed.
This morning, Butler lamented it seems like every time a player returns to the lineup, another guy suffers an injury and unfortunately, that is exactly what happened in Minnesota.
Defenceman Derek Smith was sidelined with an upper body injury and left the game in the second period. He was unable to return.
The 27 year-old has had an injury-stricken season. In December, he suffered a high ankle sprain in a game against the New York Islanders and missed 22 games as a result.
WHAT THE WEST LOOKS LIKE
Matt Stajan, Stempniak, Jones and Comeau were unable to beat Harding in the shootout so the Flames gained just a single point in Minnesota.
With the SO loss, the Flames stay in 11th with 83 points on the year. The Sharks sit in 10th with 84 points. Colorado slipped out of a playoff position and now are 9th. Los Angeles jumped all the way into 3rd in the West with 86 points while the Stars fell to 8th. The Coyotes reside in 7th with 86 points.