CALGARY, Alberta (AP) _ Not long ago, a playoff spot was in question for the
Calgary Flames. Now, they have their sights set on home-ice advantage.
Matthew Lombardi and Jarome Iginla scored, and Miikka Kiprusoff made 23
saves to help the Flames tighten their grip on a playoff berth with a 2-0
victory Thursday night over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
``It was a big win again,'' Kiprusoff said. ``Sometimes it's hard to come
back off a road trip and play well at home but we did great, and it was a huge
Lombardi put the Flames up 1-0 at 6:19 of the second period and Iginla added
an empty-net goal for the Flames, unbeaten in a season-high seven games
(5-0-2). It's their longest stretch since a 10-game run early in the 2001-02
Iginla's 37th goal tied him with Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash for second
in the NHL goal-scoring race, one behind Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kiprusoff recorded his third shutout this season and sixth of his career
while improving to 21-7-4 and lowering his NHL-best goals-against average to
Calgary is five points ahead of seventh-place St. Louis in the Western
Conference playoff race. With 86 points, the Flames are one back of Dallas for
fifth and two behind Vancouver for fourth. All three teams have eight games
``We have to go into every game with that same mentality _ getting those two
points,'' Lombardi said. ``It doesn't matter who we're playing. It's us in the
end and we've got to dictate where we want to be at the end of the season.''
The Flames have missed the postseason an NHL-high seven straight years.
Marc Denis made 33 saves for the Blue Jackets, who lost their eighth in a
row, tying a franchise record set in their first season of 2000-01.
``It's tough to take, not just in the standings, but morally in the dressing
room,'' defenseman Luke Richardson said. ``It's tough to find that energy the
next day to try and build off something you did the night before when you lose
Lombardi scored after Denis Gauthier's shot from the blue line hit Columbus
defenseman Duvie Westcott. Lombardi got the puck in the slot and tucked a
backhander behind Denis.
The Blue Jackets nearly tied it five minutes into the third period during a
power play when Manny Malhotra was thwarted by Kiprusoff, who slid across the
crease to get his shoulder on a shot from in-close.
The save sparked chants of ``Kipper, Kipper'' from the sellout crowd.
``He's made timely stops all year,'' Iginla said. ``He might not have been
as busy tonight as other nights but you look at that save on Malhotra, it's 1-0
at the time. Being in the third period, that makes it 1-1 and gives them
momentum. Instead, he makes a huge save.''
The Blue Jackets had another power play late in the game, but with Denis
pulled in the final minute, Iginla scored.
Columbus had the first five power-plays but couldn't capitalize with the
extra man, finishing 0-for-7.
``We're a team that's battled through injuries this year and we got way out
of sync and for some reason, we just haven't been able to bounce back,''