Late Goal Squashed, Flames Tie 

Rookie Blair Betts Nets Game Tying Goal 

March 22nd, 2003
Rick Charlton

The curtain has been mathematically drawn on a seventh straight season without a post-season appearance, the Calgary Flames officially eliminated from the Western Conference playoff race on a non-descript night at the Saddledome against the equally non-descript Nashville Predators.

Although neither team won, drawing even in a 1-1 tie, it was enough to doom the Flames given Edmonton would defeat Washington 5-3 later in the evening putting Calgary 17 points in their rear-view mirror for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Perhaps the only stand-out feature on the evening was the 16,628 in attendance, a remarkable number given the circumstances and the competition.

Flames are 25-34-12-4 on the season with mercifully only seven games remaining. Calgary would need to win all seven to reach its 32 win total of last year, an unlikely event to say the least.

The Flames are also destined to finish well short of their 79 points of last year, officially making this campaign a regression in this ever so long seven season rebuilding effort.

Calgary played without star Jarome Iginla, out with a sore shoulder after being driven hard into the boards Thursday evening by Washington's Ken Klee.

The resulting shuffling of forward lines seemed to invigorate the Flames with Calgary dominating the opening two frames.

But Calgary needed a comeback to eventually tie, rookie Blair Betts taking advantage of a classic flubbed pass by former Flame Cale Hulse to rip a dynamic wrist shot into the top of the net at 13:36 of the third period.

Flames thought they had won the contest with only three seconds remaining in overtime, Shean Donovan appearing to coax the puck over the goal line by a hair before it was slammed out by Nashville starting netminder Tomas Vokoun.

But a video official disagreed.

Oleg Petrov had scored earlier in the third period for Nashville.

For the Predators, winless in their last seven, the point was a fortunate one, Vokoun's outstanding work the only reason they didn't drop their fifth straight.

''We only played good for about 20 minutes, and that's not enough,'' former Flame Clarke Wilm told the Nashville Tennessean. ''Some nights that's not even good enough for a point, but tonight it was. It was probably a fitting end to the game because we didn't work hard enough to win it.''

Flames starter Roman Turek stopped 22 of 23 shots directed his way, getting little action until the third period when the Predators stepped up their play. Vokoun halted 30 of 31 Flames drives.

Both teams were zero for five on the powerplay. Chris Clark moved up to first line duty with Craig Conroy and Dave Lowry, replacing Iginla. Donovan played with Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle.

Next up is Phoenix at the Saddledome on Monday.

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Calgary Flames 1
Nashville Predators 1

1 Blair Betts - Scoring the tying goal with a beauty of a shot, had three drives on net in total and played with vigour throughout the night.

2 Tomas Vokoun - He's the primary reason the Predators can even say they were in a playoff race this year and nasty sharp against the Flames on this night.

3 Robyn Regehr - His 26:57 in ice time led all Flames and had an unexpected seven shots on goal while playing his usual physical game.

Steve Montador caught Vladimir Orszagh napping with an open ice hit that staggered the Nashville forward in his tracks in the first period.

Martin Gelinas thought he had an open cage on a second period Flames power play, but Vokoun flashed out the tip of his skate to direct Gelinas drive away and preserve a scoreless tie.

Flames were 61% in the faceoff circle, led by Conroy's 69% success rate. Rem Murray was 56% for the Predators. . . . . . . Kimmo Timonen led the Preds with 22:55 in ice time. . . . . . Jordan Leopold continues to pile up the ice time, logging 23:25, about two minutes more than Toni Lydman. . . . . . .
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