Saturday night's win was the best thing that could have happened to the Calgary Flames. They proved that they could rebound from a solid whipping and win the second of back-to-back games (something that they struggled with during the regular season).
Miikka Kiprusoff got some much needed rest, and young, inexperienced backup Curtis McElhinney got his first win of his young career.
McElhinney had not won a game in seven starts this season, despite making a few spectacular saves to keep his team in those games.
He made 35 saves and allowed only one goal, proving that the Flames had a backup who could win games, and providing a huge boost to locker-room morale (did anyone else see the shaving cream all over his face during the CBC post-game interview?).
The Flames also showed that they could win games while undermanned and tired. They played without eight of their regular lineup, including their top four defensemen.
Many players were called up from minors and stepped up to play some major minutes and make genuine contributions to the team.
Perhaps most satisfying was the play of rookie John Negrin who played almost 15 minutes and recorded his first NHL point, an assist on Jamie Lundmark's goal at 15:48 of the third.
Aside from that, Negrin also played a very smart game, making the right moves at the right times, and made a solid case for him to remain on the lineup going into the playoffs, at least until the rest of the defense gets healthy.
Also commendable was the play of Eric Nystrom, who played over 20 minutes and had several glorious opportunities. He too showed that he could step up to plate and deliver when called upon.
Mike Cammalleri had another huge night for the Flames, scoring two goals and getting several good chances to add a third, which would have been his 40th of the season.
As it is, Cammalleri led the team in goals scored, relieving much of the pressure from Superstar Captain Iginla.
Calgary has struggled recently on offense, scoring more than two goals only once since March 28 when they beat Minnesota 3-2.
This breakout from Cammalleri helped restore faith in the team's top producers, and hopefully will help jump start them for the playoffs.
When Calgary lost to Edmonton on Friday, they essentially fell apart after being scored on for the first time. This time, they bounced right back, applying pressure immediately, and getting several good chances.
This will be essential for playoff success and needs to continue if they are to have any chance of making it past Chicago.
In short, the Calgary Flames showed that even with half their lineup gone, a backup goalie in net, and down a goal in a game that meant nothing, they still wanted to win.
And win they did, scoring four goals in the last 30 minutes to take the final game of the regular season 4-1.
The Flames should be heading into the playoffs with their heads held high. They did everything right in their last game, and if they continue to play like that, they will give any team in the league a run for their money.
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