DENVER – The Calgary Flames haven't had much reason to smile this season while posting the second-worst record in the NHL. The same can be said for the Colorado Avalanche, who have the League's worst record.
The Flames were able to celebrate a rare win Monday at the Pepsi Center, where they defeated the Avalanche 3-1 to snap a 13-game road losing streak.
Former Avalanche left wing Alex Tanguay sealed the victory by scoring a shorthanded goal with 3:19 remaining in the third period. Tanguay took a pass from Lee Stempniak after a faceoff, skated in alone on goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere and cut to the left before scoring inside the near post.
"The puck was bouncing and I tried to make a move and I lost the puck," Tanguay said. "I just tried to shovel it at the net."
The Flames previously won on the road Feb. 1, a 4-3 victory at Dallas. They had lost five games in a row overall and six of their previous seven games, the only win in that stretch a 4-3 home decision against the Avalanche on March 27.
"We've had plenty of distractions around the team, but we all have to be professional now," Tanguay said. "We have to play the games. Lots of fans pay to watch the games and we have to make sure we get geared up and be professional about it. That's the only way to approach it."
The Flames own a 14-20-4 record for 32 points and have 10 games remaining.
"Mentally, it's been unbelievably tough," said Tanguay, who won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 2001. "I was fortunate that my first few years in the League I thought it was easy, that I'd have a chance to win the Stanley Cup year in and year out. It's certainly not that way. This makes me appreciate even more the good times that I had early on. I certainly want to get back there."
It's been an equally difficult season for the Avalanche, and Giguere was critical of the team's attitude after it ran its losing streak to five games (0-4-1). The Avalanche has lost eight of their past 10 games (1-8-1), 13 of their past 15 (2-12-1) and have fallen to 12-22-5 for the season.
"I mean, there's no more excuse," Giguere said. "It's not about being young, we have to put our head into the game. Some guys are more worried about their Vegas trip at the end of the season than playing the games, the remaining games. Frankly, I don't care about your Vegas trip right now. It's not constructive.
"We have to find a way to get out of this losing mentality. It starts by me and the next guy beside me. Everybody's got to do their part. It's embarrassing. I'm embarrassed to be here right now. It's not even funny."
The Flames got goals from Roman Cervenka and Mike Cammalleri 6:17 apart in the second period to grab a 2-1 lead before leaning on goalie Joey MacDonald, who finished with a season-best 39 saves.
"It's been a long time since we won," MacDonald said. "We've got a lot of young guys in the lineup fighting for spots for next year. I thought Giguere played really well, too. They were throwing a lot of pucks at the net and they've got a lot of young guys with a lot of talent and you can't take them for granted."
Cervenka scored through a screen at 10:36 after skating to the top of the slot to tie the game 1-1. The goal came 10 seconds after the Flames failed to convert on a power play. They went 0-for-6 with the man advantage, including a 5-on-3 in the first period that lasted 1:36.
Cammalleri put the Flames ahead at 16:53 off a pass from Roman Horak, who picked up his second assist of the game. Horak was along the end boards when he slid the puck by Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson as Cammalleri skated unimpeded to the net.
"I asked my players to treat the game like it was a Stanley Cup Playoff game and they responded well," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "We had a gutsy effort. Everyone's going to get on the plane tonight and they'll be happy."
Rookie Brad Malone opened the scoring for the Avalanche at 1:45 of the second period for his first NHL goal in 15 career games. Defenseman Tyson Barrie fired a shot from the point and Malone deflected it by MacDonald.
It was just the 12th time in 39 games this season that the Avalanche scored first, not that it mattered in the end.
"It's horrible, as bad as you can imagine," Avalanche center Matt Duchene said. "It's so disappointing right now and it's so frustrating."