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Cammalleri's pair leads Flames past Avalanche

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames caught a glimpse of what life could be like without the face of the franchise Wednesday.

Mike Cammalleri made sure to pick up the slack.

Cammalleri scored twice and Joey MacDonald made 27 saves as the Flames held on to beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 at Scotiabank Saddledome, extending Calgary's winning streak at home to eight games.

Flames captain Jarome Iginla was a healthy scratch for the game and it was announced afterwards that he had been dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Kenneth Agostino, Ben Hanowski and Pittsburgh's first round pick at the 2013 NHL Draft.

"There was definitely an emotion out there, whatever that emotion is," Cammalleri said. "Whatever that emotion was from his absence, from the fans, from the players, you felt it in the building. It was an emotion. I don't know how to describe exactly what it was. At the end of the day, the guys in the room completed hard for one another and we were able to win because of it."

With the distraction, the Avalanche couldn't take advantage and with the loss and are winless in their last 10 on the road.

"It should have worked in our favor and it didn't," Matt Duchene said. "They were ready to play. Distractions can hurt a hockey team. Give them a lot of credit -- they didn't let it affect him."

The Flames started MacDonald against Colorado (11-17-4) in place of Miikka Kiprusoff, who played 24 hours before against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I think like some wins when you have the lead going into the third you wish you maybe would've played a little more in their end but our goaltender was good," Cammalleri said. "Overall, it was a nice compete level from us."

Inspired by the absence of its captain, Calgary (13-15-4) bombarded starter Semyon Varlamov, outshooting Colorado 14-2 en route to building a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

With former Flames forward Chuck Kobasew in the box for hooking, Roman Cervenka fed fellow Czech Jiri Hudler in the slot. After a couple of whacks on Varlamov, Hudler was able to bang home his seventh of the season at 8:10.

Steve Begin extended the lead to two at 12:01 after his backhand from the goal line bounced off the stick of Shane O'Brien and trickled behind Varlamov.

The second period made for some more explosive hockey between the Western Conference's most generous defenses.

After Jamie McGinn and Cammalleri exchanged near-identical rebound goals 12 seconds apart to open the period, Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog scored a strange one just after MacDonald denied a streaking Duchene with a dazzling second-effort.

Coming off the wing, Duchene poked the puck through Flames defenseman TJ Brodie and put a low shot on MacDonald. He handled the initial shot and reached back to snag the rebound in mid air before it had a chance to get into the net.

On the ensuing faceoff, Landeskog's centering attempt from below the goal line ricocheted off the outside of the net, up MacDonald's pad and trickled into the net to cut Calgary's lead to 3-2 at 9:14.

Again, Cammalleri answered the goal, one-timing a Dennis Wideman feed from the bottom of the left circle behind Varlamov to return the lead to two with 7:19 remaining in the period.

Calgary was outshot 16-2 in the third period, but MacDonald was there to bail his teammates out.

After losing track of the puck on a rebound that bounced up into the air, MacDonald scrambled to make a toe save off McGinn before gloving another attempt moments later.

The saves sparked the Flames, who couldn't solve Varlamov or the post on ensuing chances.

After working his way through the slot, Cervenka found Hudler parked to Varlamov's left, but struck the iron instead. On Calgary's next shot, Lee Stempniak slipped a shot under Varlamov's arm, but the puck trickled just wide of the post at the 10-minute mark.

Luck continued to follow the Avalanche. With both Matt Stajan and Alex Tanguay in the penalty box for a 5-on-3 advantage, Milan Hejduk broke his stick on his attempt from the point. The puck floated over to Ryan O'Reilly, who lifted his fourth over an out-of-position MacDonald to cut the lead to 4-3 at 12:34.

An inspired Duchene almost tied the goal with five minutes remaining, walking around Calgary blueliner Jay Bouwmeester and firing the puck just overtop of MacDonald's cage. He followed it up with another glove save off Duchene with 25.2 seconds remaining to preserve the win.

"He played a good game," Duchene said. "I've got to find a way to score though. I'm in a little bit of a scoring slump. It can't happen. I've got to get over it."

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