Denver, CO (Sports Network) – Miikka Kiprusoff made 34 saves, helping the playoff-hopeful Calgary Flames hold on for a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay scored for the Flames, who won for the third time in four games and sit in ninth place in the Western Conference — but not by much.
Because eighth-place Chicago lost to Tampa Bay on Sunday, Calgary is only one point behind. However, the Flames have only two games left, while the Blackhawks have four.
“Right now we need the gods on our side to get into the playoffs,” Tanguay said. “We got our points, and we just have to keep winning.”
Milan Hejduk scored for the Avalanche, who were coming off Friday’s shootout win against Phoenix. That victory followed a 2-10-1 March. Peter Budaj stopped 34 shots in the setback.
“We have [four] games to go and we still have to go out strong,” said Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles. “Everybody’s auditioning for jobs. It’s how it is.”
After a scoreless first period, Jokinen got the Flames on the board just past the midway point of the second. He collected a loose puck in front of the crease and released a quick shot that got by Budaj.
Calgary pushed its lead to two in the third period, thanks to a successful rush. Though the Flames didn’t have an advantage in numbers — it was 2-on-3 — they used spacing and speed to get the goal.
Jarome Iginla led the rush up the left side of the ice, with Tanguay on the right and three Avalanche players between. Colorado defenseman Ryan O’Byrne blocked Iginla’s first backhand cross-ice pass with his skate, but Iginla followed the puck.
By the time Iginla re-gained control near the goal line, two of the Colorado defenders had slowed, providing enough space to thread a pass through. Tanguay was waiting by the right side of the crease and wristed in his goal at 8:13.
The Avalanche got the goal back with five minutes left and pressured Kiprusoff in the final minutes, but the Flames netminder held steady to secure the key win.
Jokinen scored for the first time in five games. Tanguay has posted two goals and five assists in his last three games…Colorado went 0-for-3 on the power play…The Flames close their regular season by hosting Edmonton on Wednesday and Vancouver on Saturday.