CALGARY - Mike Cammalleri scored twice and Curtis McElhinney made 35 saves for his first NHL victory as the injury-riddled Calgary Flames capped off a disappointing ending to the regular season Saturday night with a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Vancouver's 1-0 overtime victory over Colorado Saturday afternoon clinched the Northwest Division for the Canucks and left Calgary locked into fifth place with nothing on the line against the Oilers.
Knowing that their first round opponent would be the fourth place Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary turned to McElhinney in night and he was able finally get his first victory.
Edmonton struck first but Cammalleri tied the game at 8:26 of the second period.
Darting into the Oilers zone on his off-wing, Cammalleri put a back-hander towards the net that went through the legs of defenceman Taylor Chorney and prior to squeaking through the pads of goaltender Jeff Deslauriers.
The pending unrestricted free agent then scored again at 15:52 to put the Flames ahead.
Cammalleri's team-leading 39th goal of the year came on perfect shot from the slot that found the top corner beyond Delaurier's outstretched glove.
Making that lead stand up was McElhinney, whose first career win comes in his seventh career start and 19th appearance.
It's been a tough year for McElhinney, who entered the night with an 0-6-1 record and .877 save percentage. Of the goalies who have played at least 500 minutes this season, only Pascal Leclaire (.867) and Curtis Joseph (.869) had worse save percentages.
McElhinney has been the back-up for workhorse Miikka Kiprusoff for the past season-and-a-half. He started in the same role last year too but was supplanted by Joseph when Calgary added the veteran in mid-January.
The 25-year-old certainly was full marks for his long awaited victory. As Edmonton poured on the pressure in the final 30 seconds of the second period, he made four consecutive sharp saves, three coming off the stick of Ales Kotalik.
McElhinney also came up big in the third period jabbing out a pad to foil Ethan Moreau on a short-handed breakaway after he stripped the puck from Jarome Iginla at the Oilers blue-line.
Calgary gave itself some much-needed breathing room at 9:50 of the third when Conroy knocked in Cammalleri's rebound to make it 3-1.
Jamie Lundmark also scored for Calgary (46-30-6).
The Flames are making its fifth playoff appearance in a row, a streak that began in 2003-04 when they went all the way to the final before losing in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Calgary has failed to get out of the first round in the last three seasons.
Tom Gilbert had the lone goal for Edmonton (38-35-9). The Oilers ended up losing eight of their final 11.
The Oilers will miss the playoffs for the third straight year since losing to Carolina in the Stanley Cup final in 2005-06.
McElhinney was making his seventh start and 19th appearance since breaking camp as the Flames back-up goaltender at the start of least season, a year in which he was supplanted by Joseph when the veteran was picked up at the trade deadline.
As the injuries mounted, salary cap constraints have crippled general manager Darryl Sutter's ability to call up replacement players resulting in the Flames dressing less than a full line-up for the final six games of the season. For both games against Edmonton, Calgary dressed only 15 skaters.
The biggest impact of the ill-timed run of injuries has been to the blue-line where mainstay defencemen Dion Phaneuf (undisclosed), Robyn Regehr (suspected knee injury), and Cory Sarich (foot) are all recent casualties, joining Marc Giordano, who was lost for the season in February. Whether any of the first three will be back for the start of the playoffs is unknown. What is certain is that the salary cap does not factor into the playoffs so Calgary will be able to bring up reinforcements.
Although not a factor Saturday night, Calgary's maligned power play again failed to score going 0-for-2.
Notes: Replacing Sarich, Regehr, and Phaneuf's 1681 games of NHL experience have been rookie defencemen Adam Pardy, Matt Pelech, and John Negrin. The latter three have combined for 68 NHL games. . . Among the experienced defenceman that could be available to the Flames for the playoffs are Rhett Warrener, 33, and Anders Eriksson, 34. Warrener (shoulder) has missed the entire season but has been practising with the club. Eriksson has spent the year with Quad City (AHL). Eriksson would have to clear re-entry waivers if he gets recalled. . . Negrin assisted on Lundmark's goal for his first NHL point. . . Forwards Dustin Penner, Kyle Brodziak, and Robert Nilsson were among the scratches for the Oilers. Each of them played Friday night.