SNAPSHOTS: Flames triumph in overtime in Anaheim

SNAPSHOTS: Flames triumph in overtime in Anaheim

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ANAHEIM — The Calgary Flames are on a mission.

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They entered the NHL’s vacation break in a playoff spot, completing the goal they’d been stating over and over again for the past week.

The Flames advanced to the Elite Eight of the Western Conference with Friday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks, keeper of a successful stint in California.

“We talked about it – have a good road trip what we did,” said Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson, picking the top shelf in the sudden death. “Coming out with three out of four wins and seven out of eight points is a good journey. Now we build and we move on.”

But first, relax for a few days, find out what’s packed under the tree, maybe enjoy a squirt of eggnog.

They return to the rink for Tuesday’s clash with arch-rivals Edmonton Oilers (7pm, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan)the squad they just skipped to move into the second wild card slot.

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“You know what? That was torture for our team,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said before an overnight flight home from Anaheim. “So I don’t know about a stepping stone. They need a break and tonight it was just about getting there bit of digging.”

Michael Stone opened the scoring with a howitzer on Friday – this guy could put a puck right through Grandma’s fruitcake – and the Flames used a bit of luck for their other regular strike. A second-half clearance attempt by the Ducks hit referee Trevor Hanson in the leg and Trevor Lewis picked up the loose puck and played to Brett Ritchie, who laid a backhander out of the slot.

The Ducks did all of their offensive damage on the power play — a backdoor one-timer from Mason McTavish during a five-on-three stretch, and then a blocker side-buy from Jakob Silfverberg.

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The Flames didn’t have much success in bonus time, but Andersson made sure they landed on the smiling side that round. His shot was an absolute beauty.

What was said during the celebration?

“Merry Christmas,” grinned Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Very happy.

They made sure of that with back-to-back wins in San Jose, a solitary point in Los Angeles and what Ritchie called a “pretty sleazy win” in Anaheim, an indication it didn’t have to be close after amassing 45 shots at the net had.

“We stuck to that throughout games, whether we had good or bad bounces,” Ritchie summarized that four-game trip. “Last night (in Los Angeles) we gave up two early in the third and could easily have given up. I think that’s what was missing at the beginning of the year, this ability to keep going. You’re never out until it’s over.”

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The hunt for the playoff spots is far from over, but the Flames (16-12-7) have accomplished their mission ahead of this particular milestone.

“Obviously we went through some periods where we didn’t play as well as we wanted,” said Markstrom, who has now won three straight starts. “But we also have phases where we play really good hockey and we have to build on that. It will be nice now to spend a few days with the family and relax and get away for a bit and then come back ready.”


Markstrom made a performance of 21 saves at the Honda Center. In the center picture he must have been bored when the score was 21:1 in favor of the away guests… The Flames are now 3-7 in games still tied after 60 minutes… Andersson’s final stat line in Anaheim — four shots on the net, four blocked shots and the overtime winner in 27:37 ice time. “That’s changing fast, isn’t it?” he said afterwards. “I made a terrible play on the overtime goal in LA yesterday. I had them tic-tac-toe around me and they scored a goal. Today I scored, but yesterday it was probably my fault they scored, so it goes both ways”…WWith about 10 ticks remaining in regulation, Flames defender Chris Tanev hit the deck for a crucial shot block on Silfverberg… Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin scored twice on Friday to move past Gordie Howe on the all-time NHL scoring chart. With 802 career grades, 37-year-old Ovechkin now trails only Wayne Gretzky, who flicked 894. Ultimately, can the Great 8 break that record from the Great One? “I hope so,” Flames rearguard Nikita Zadorov replied when asked about the Russian compatriot. “That would be cool to see.” Zadorov was 10 when Ovechkin debuted with the Capitals and recalls marveling at the highlight footage. “Right now you could call his goals boring – everything from that one point,” Zadorov broke out. “But when he was young he used to kill boys at forechecks. He came from the left wing, put it between his legs, he went around the defenders all the time, a lot of different goals. Lots of goals, period.

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Flames Assistant General Manager Chris Snow is home for the holidays. His wife Kelsie shared this great news on Twitter on Friday, along with a photo of Chris being hugged by their two children. The snow has been an inspiration to many as Chris continues his battle with ALS. “We got our Christmas miracle,” Kelsie wrote. “After two weeks in the hospital and twice on life support, Chris is home”… Happy Holidays, C of Red. If you need a hockey fix ahead of Tuesday’s Battle of Alberta, a couple of Calgary’s prospects – Finn Topi Ronni and Swede William Stromgren – will be in action at the World Juniors on Boxing Day be … Need a Christmas wish for those flames? How about a goal for blue liner MacKenzie Weegar, who is still scoring his first goal for his new club? How about recognition for Lewis, who has been one of the most consistent players all season? How about another opportunity to call up Matthew Phillips, who has been scratched for six straight games?

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