With one swipe of the stick, the Calgary Flames saw their magical run come to a close.
At 2:26 of overtime, Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry won a battle in the crease, sliding a loose puck past Flames goaltender Karri Ramo for the 3-2 victory in Game 5, closing the series and ending the Flames’ storybook playoff hopes.
The Ducks, again, finished the game in dramatic fashion as they trailed 2-1 heading into the third period. Much like they did in an NHL-record 18 games this past season, the Ducks overcame a deficit in the final stanza to rally and win the game. It was a reputation for both clubs in the series, as Calgary won 10 games during the season when trailing after two periods.
It was a magical run for the Flames, who finished last season in 27th place after posting a dismal 35-40-7 record. The summer did not see too many changes for the Calgary squad (the biggest being the signing of former Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller); it was a year that was meant to let the young stars grow and be competitive within the next few NHL seasons. The youthful roster took a giant leap forward in production, amassing 97 points (45-30-7) and earning the third playoff spot in the Pacific Division. They defeated the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2015 postseason, advancing the franchise to the second round for the first time since 2004.
The accolades are staggering for the team’s leap. Rookie Johnny Gaudreau scored an amazing 24 goals and 64 points en route to earning a nomination for the Calder Trophy. Coach Bob Hartley led his roster to one of his best individual records as a bench boss, deservedly being named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award.
Jiri Hudler, at the age of 31, recorded a monstrous season, scoring 31 goals and 76 points — shattering his former career bests in goals (25), assists (37) and points (57). Mark Giordano, although injured to close out the season, was on pace for a Norris Trophy-esque season, contributing 48 points and a plus-13 rating. His career-best season also came at 31-years old.
The miraculous season-long run had to come at an end at some point, but the future is chalked full of bright spots. Add playoff experience to the list of reasons the Flames will continue to be successful, and you may start seeing this young team’s name in Stanley Cup consideration as early as next season.
Take a closer look at the Flames, as well as the rest of the NHL headlines from a busy weekend.
The Flames have their issues, but should be commended on a great season. [Matchsticks and Gasoline]
Corey Perry, of course, scored the winning goal for Anaheim. [LA Times]
This will be Bruce Boudreau’s first Conference Final. [Puck Daddy]
The Capitals will battle the Rangers in Game 7 on Wednesday. [The Globe & Mail]
Chris Kreider’s game-opening goal was quite memorable. [Today’s Slapshot]
The Rangers bear a striking resemblance to a championship-level NBA team. [Five Thiry Eight]
The Canadiens may be able to make history this postseason. [Habs Eyes On The Prize]
Mike Babcock met with Sabres’ management. [CBS Sports]
Jack Eichel led the U.S. team to a thrilling win over Slovenia in the World Championship. [Pro Hockey Talk]