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Flames solve Wings, increase Northwest lead

by Brian Hunter
The Detroit Red Wings have all but wrapped up the Central Division. On Monday night, the Calgary Flames took a big step in their quest to win the Northwest Division and clinch a top-three seed in the Western Conference.

Mike Cammalleri had a goal and two assists in the first 26 minutes of the game, five different Calgary players scored and Miikka Kiprusoff made 30 saves for his NHL-leading 42nd win of the season as the Flames held off the Red Wings, 5-3, at Pengrowth Saddledome.

Jamie Lundmark, Curtis Glencross and Craig Conroy all had a goal and an assist, and Dion Phaneuf also scored for Calgary, which increased its lead over Vancouver in the division to five points, with the Canucks holding a game in hand.

"Now it's crunch time. We want to just keep winning our games and let these games dwindle down and try to win the division," said Conroy. "Noboby's been hotter than Vancouver and we know that but we felt this was a must game, we didn't want to give them another opportunity like we did against St. Louis."

Detroit trailed 3-0 and 4-1 but rallied on goals by Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler to make it a one-goal game with just under seven minutes remaining. Conroy put the puck into an empty net with 28 seconds to play and the Wings missed an opportunity to leap over the idle Sharks and back into the President's Trophy lead.

Chris Osgood, who had the Wings on a four-game winning streak, was pulled from his season-high fifth consecutive start after allowing three goals on 14 shots. Ty Conklin replaced him after Cammalleri's power-play goal 5:38 into the second period gave the Flames a 3-0 lead.

"By far that was my worst game in this building," Osgood said. "It wasn't that I didn't feel good, I love playing in Calgary, I always feel good here, but it just didn't happen for me tonight."

Phaneuf scored the only goal of the first period on Calgary's second shot. His harmless-looking snap shot from just over the blue line beat Osgood to his glove side at the 10:57 mark.

Osgood's struggles continued in the second, as Lundmark's wrist shot from deep in the right corner glanced off his pad and between his legs at 2:21 and Cammalleri followed by banking the puck off his pads while skating behind the net.

"Something we were trying to do was get the puck on net a lot and try and cause some havoc in front of the net. We got some bounces that went our way so it was nice," said Cammalleri, whose goal was his team-leading 36th.

 At that point, Conklin took over the crease while Osgood skated off to the dressing room and didn't return to the bench.

"I don't think about it when I play great, you just move on and play the next game," Osgood said. "You guys make too big deal out of these games. If this happens the day before the playoffs, it doesn't matter. What matters is what happens in the first playoff game."

Datsyuk got the Wings on the board with 2:25 left in the second, reaching the 30-goal mark for the third time in his career, but Glencross restored the Flames' three-goal cushion on a one-timer 5:31 into the third.

Kiprusoff was stellar for much of the night, while also benefitting from a little bit of luck. Mikael Samuelsson hit the post on a second-period breakaway, with the puck then bouncing off Kiprusoff's leg and hitting the post a second time before it slid along the goal line and was finally cleared by defenseman Cory Sarich.

In the third period, a Niklas Kronwall shot from the point ricocheted off the end boards and off the back of Kiprusoff's outstretched pad before the goalie was able to freeze the puck.

"You've got to have some bounces like that if you're going to win a hockey game," Sarich said. "We weren't great in the third. It was a learning experience against a great club. I think we tightened up a little bit. We're going to have to find a way to take some momentum away from them and get it on our side."

Detroit started to solve him more than halfway through the third, as Franzen got his 31st with 9:38 remaining and Hudler added his 22nd with 6:57 left. Conklin left the net for a sixth attacker, leading to Conroy's goal that capped the offense.

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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