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Opportunistic Flames beat Lightning

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA -- Calgary Flames goaltender Karri Ramo tried to downplay how good it felt to beat his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. His coach wasn't buying it.

Ramo stopped 31 shots and the Flames got goals by Mike Cammalleri and Kevin Westgarth 15 seconds midway through the first period in a 4-1 victory on Thursday night.

Ramo, who was drafted by the Lightning in 2004 and appeared in 44 games during three seasons with Tampa Bay, said it was just another game for him.

"I felt pretty normal going into the game," Ramo said. "I thought it might be a little different but things have changed so much that I didn't even notice the rink anymore. It was a normal game."

Calgary coach Bob Hartley didn't agree.

"This was a big game for Ramo," Hartley said. "Any player, but more importantly goalies, I think it's easy mental preparation when you're playing against your old team. As a coach I always hate to coach against former goalies because you know they want to beat you bad. Karri was, once again, very very solid."

Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop contributed to his own demise by making a bad clearing pass that Cammalleri turned into the game's first goal at 10:20 of the opening period. Westgarth added his fourth of the season at 10:35 for a quick 2-0 lead.

Tampa Bay made it 2-1 at 15:56 of the second period when Ondrej Palat took a backhand pass from Matt Carle, skated across the crease and slipped the puck behind Ramo on his second attempt. It was Palat's 20th goal of the season. Ryan Callahan had the second assist, his 11th point since joining Tampa Bay 15 games ago.

But Calgary's Curtis Glencross added a power-play goal with 1:56 left in regulation and hit the empty net with 16 seconds remaining.

The Lightning (42-26-9), who've clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, dropped behind the Montreal Canadiens into third place in the Atlantic Division. Each team has 93 points and five games remaining, but the Canadiens have 37 non-shootout wins to 35 for the Lightning.

Midway through the first period, Calgary had four shots on goal but had scored on two of them.

"That start is huge," Hartley said. "You get two goals on the road off your forecheck, this is great. And we managed to stay in the game. We knew that they would keep coming. They are one of the fastest teams in the League, if not the fastest team and they applied pressure. Our guys deserve lots of credit."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was taking nothing away from the play of the Flames, but he was more inclined to point the finger at his own team.

"Players in the room have to take some accountability for themselves for showing up ready to play," Cooper said. "Preparation, work ethic, they have to bring that. Mentally I didn't think we were all there in the first period. That was unfortunate.

"Tough one to swallow tonight. It was a 7:30 start to the game, not an 8:15 start. We started at 8:15."

By then, Calgary had the lead -- and kept it thanks to Ram's play and a bunch of blocked shots. Tampa Bay ended up outshooting the Flames 32-25, a margin that would have been higher had the Flames not blocked 24 shots. But the Lightning spent the night playing catch-up.

Cammalleri opened the scoring when he picked off an errant Bishop pass from behind the net and fired his 25th of the season into the empty Lightning net. Westgarth then found himself with the puck to Bishop's left and scored for a 2-0 lead. Christopher Breen collected his first NHL point with the lone assist.

"I was trying to get the puck to (J.T.) Brown and Cammalleri just read it," Bishop said of the first goal. "That happens. No big deal."

But it was a big deal to the Flames. In fact, it was bigger than that.

"It was huge, scoring two goals in 15 seconds," Westgarth said. "This team that we played has a high-powered offense and they can explode at times. So, to get a little bit of a lead we were able to play that much more confident."

The loss snapped the Lightning's eight-game point streak at home, during which they had gone 5-0-3, and it didn't sit well.

"We didn't play well," captain Steven Stamkos said. "You can talk about let-downs, you can talk about whatever, but once the puck drops you play the way you are capable of and we didn't do that. It's frustrating and disappointing to sit here at this point of the year and play like that. It felt like we didn't want to win the game."

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