Must win games. Perhaps the most overused phrase in professional sports. The Calgary Flames have played numerous must win games over the last two months winning most of them. Tonight however, the Flames in another must win game lost 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Flames got off to a great start, scoring twice in a span of 2:14 early in the first. Mikael Backlund opened the scoring on a great individual effort. Then Matt Stajan banged home a rebound giving the Flames a quick 2-0 lead.
But the Canucks are first overall for a reason. They don’t panic. Ryan Kesler scored from atop of the face-off circle. A goal that Flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff should have stopped. That goal turned the momentum around into the Canucks favour as they dominated the rest of the period.
That trend continued in the second as the Canucks continually hemmed the Flames deep in their own zone. Daniel Sedin snapped home his 36th goal of the season to tie the game midway through the stanza.
David Moss regained the lead for the Flames as he jammed home a loose puck past a sprawling Roberto Luongo a minute later.
The Canucks rebounded as Alex Burrows tipped home a Daniel Sedin shot to tie the game.
Then Daniel scored his second of the night with 16 seconds left in the period giving the Canucks the lead at the intermission.
The Flames did have a strong period but strong defensive play by the Canucks and solid goaltending preserved the lead over the Canucks and the Flames went home disappointed.
The loss keeps the Flames in the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference only one point up on the Nashville Predators who defeated the Colorado Avalanche tonight and have two games in hand.
The Flames must bounce back very soon or they could see themselves on the outside looking in for the second straight season which would make a passionate fan base very unhappy.
The next “must win game” for the Flames is Tuesday night when they host the Phoenix Coyotes. The desert dogs also have 81 points so this game is very large in determining the last playoff spots in the Western Conference.