Mike Cammalleri has had a knack for scoring game-winning goals for the Calgary Flames.
Cammalleri has scored 10 times since the NHL’s trade deadline on March 5 and four of them have been winners, including his goal with 7.8 seconds left in the second period of Calgary’s 4-3 win over the New York Rangers on Friday night.
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"I think it has a lot to do with team play," said Cammalleri, who also scored the shootout winner in Calgary’s 2-1 win at home over the San Jose Sharks on Monday.
"To get a game winner, you have to win the game. I would think that we’re doing a lot of things better as a group and that’s putting guys in positions where they can do things like that."
Joe Colborne, Mark Giordano and Kevin Westgarth also scored for the Flames, who tied a franchise record (set in 2005-06) with their 45th one-goal game of the season. They improved their record to 22-17-8 in those matchups.
"Around the league, we’re well known," Westgarth said. "It’s never going to be an easy game against the Flames. Obviously the season hasn’t gone the way that we wanted it to. Playoffs is the goal. We’re not there this year. We’re looking to spoiler a lot at the end of this season and we’re looking forward to having a big next year."
T.J. Brodie had a pair of assists for Calgary, and goalie Karri Ramo made 38 saves to improve his record to 14-11-4.
Brad Richards had a goal and an assist for the Rangers, whose winning streak ended at five games.
"We knew coming into this game that Calgary was a very good team at four-man rush and they proved it tonight," New York coach Alain Vigneault said. "We didn’t do a good enough job coming back in our zone and picking up the rush and after the rush protecting the front of our net. That led to Grade-A opportunities and they capitalized."
Brian Boyle and Raphael Diaz also scored for the Rangers, who sit in second spot in the Metropolitan Division, just one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers, who beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Friday.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist finished with 24 saves.
"They’ve been playing well," Lundqvist said of the Flames. "They’ve been beating a lot of good teams. They’re a fast team. It doesn’t matter if you play a team in the playoff race. Guys are playing for pride and for jobs and they’re going to come hard no matter what."
The Flames took an early 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Colborne at 4:51 of the first period. After Curtis Glencross sent a shot from the slot off the post, the puck found its way to Colborne, who backhanded a shot over the fallen Rangers goalie.
Less than two minutes later, New York appeared to tie the game when Rick Nash threw a puck to the front of the net that bounced off Martin St. Louis’s skate and past Ramo. After review, referee Mike Leggo waved off the goal after it was deemed St. Louis intentionally directed the puck into the net with his skate.
Giordano put the Flames up 2-0 at 16:49 of the first when he snapped a shot over Lundqvist’s glove hand, off the post and in.
Late in the opening period, Ramo made a great glove save to stop a point-blank shot by Derek Stepan.
After stopping all 18 shots he faced in the first, Ramo allowed three goals on four shots early in the second.
"They came back in the second with three relatively quick ones and that can deflate teams sometimes, but I think that’s been a hallmark of our game is that response and the never-say-die attitude," Westgarth said. "We’re at this point of the season playing big teams, playing teams with a lot to lose. It’s a huge step in the right direction to be in every game and winning a lot of them."
Boyle opened the scoring for New York at 2:12 of the second. After swatting a feed from Derek Dorsett off the post behind Ramo, Boyle easily tapped the loose puck in the crease into a wide-open net.
Diaz tied the game 39 seconds later when his point shot deflected off Calgary’s Kenny Agostino and Tyler Wotherspoon before finding its way into the back of the net behind Ramo.
Richards capped off New York’s goal-scoring spree when he took a pass from Carl Hagelin and beat Ramo with a shot to the top corner to put the Rangers up 3-2.
Calgary coach Bob Hartley commended Ramo for keeping his composure after giving up the three quick goals.
"He is so strong mentally," Hartley said. "It’s almost like a boxer that takes a few good ones on the chin. You get wobbling but with Karri, he’s solid, he stayed focused, than came back in the third period with big saves."
Calgary tied things up again at 13:49 of the second when Westgarth knocked a loose puck in the crease past Lundqvist.
Cammalleri then scored with 7.8 seconds to go before the second intermission when his shot squeaked through Lundqvist’s pads and across the goal line.
St. Louis had a great chance to tie the game just past the seven-minute mark of the third period, but Ramo made a sprawling save to deny the veteran forward.
"I was able to read it pretty well," Ramo said. "Nash didn’t really have any other options than to pass it because he was being tripped so I was able to read it."
St. Louis has yet to score in 13 games since being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning by the Rangers at the trade deadline. He has just three assists in that span.
Notes: After taking a hit from Dorsett late in the first period, Calgary defenseman Ladislav Smid left the game with an upper-body injury and didn’t return. … The Flames are 19-7-3 when scoring first this season and 19-4-2 when leading after two periods. … Calgary forward Sean Monahan is stuck on 19 goals in his rookie season. He hasn’t scored in 11 games. During that same span, Westgarth and Brian McGrattan have combined for five goals.