x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Flames boost play-off hopes

Bourque's double thwarts Avalanche and ensures first victory over Colarado this season as Calgary make move on a post-season spot.

The Calgary Flames winger, Eric Nystrom, flips the puck past the Colorado Avalanche's goalie, Craig Anderson.
The Calgary Flames winger, Eric Nystrom, flips the puck past the Colorado Avalanche's goalie, Craig Anderson.

Rene Bourque scored twice to help the Calgary Flames hold off the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Wednesday for a first win over their Northwest Division rivals in five attempts this season. The win moved the Flames (35-26-9) a point behind the Detroit Red Wings for the eighth and final play-off spot in the NHL's Western Conference.

"They had our number and it was time for us to respond," Bourque said. "We got off with a good start, getting a lucky break on the short-handed goal. I got a nice bounce and it turned into a nice night." Calgary cruised to a 3-0 lead, Eric Nystrom's goal sandwiched between Bourque's brace, before the Avs fought back. Chris Durno got Colorado (40-24-6) on the board in the second period and Milan Hejduk made it 3-2 with 33 seconds left in the game.

Bourque recognised how crucial his second goal was. "It was huge," he said. "To get one there made a big difference in the game. "I kind of crept to the side of the net and when (Mark Giordano) shot it, he saw me there and just tried to get it low to the far side and it was a tap-in." Bourque's winner was his 22nd goal of the season, a career high. Goaltender Vesa Toskala, acquired in a trade with Anaheim on March 3, had 32 saves in his second start with the Flames.

"Every game is big right now," Toskala said. "We're fighting for a play-off spot so every game is like a play-off game. It was a good effort tonight and a huge win." "It was a huge road win," Calgary coach Brent Sutter said. "We knew we needed to play well and we're going to have to play well from here on in because every game is a big, big game for us." Elsewhere, Patrik Elias scored a breakaway goal and set up another as the New Jersey Devils beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 to complete a six game sweep of their Atlantic Division rivals this season.

Whether such success will translate in the play-offs should the two teams meet remains to be seen. "The play-offs are a different season," said the Devils' coach, Jacques Lemaire. "But our confidence will still dominate at that point." The Devils managed only 19 shots on goal, but many of them were from good scoring positions. The game turned ugly with 6:29 remaining when the Devils' Rod Pelley drove the Pittsburgh defenceman Alex Goligoski head-first into the boards. The hit resembled the one Washington's Alex Ovechkin delivered on Chicago's Brian Campbell on Sunday that drew a two-game suspension. * With agencies