TAMPA, Fla. — After five years Karri Ramo expected his return to Tampa to feel different, but the Calgary Flames’ goalie said it felt like a normal game.
The Tampa Bay Lightning probably wouldn’t mind if he stayed away for another five years.
Ramo finished with 31 saves, Mike Cammalleri and Kevin Westgarth scored 15 seconds apart in the first period, and the Flames beat the Lightning 4-1 Thursday night.
“I thought it might be a little bit different, but no,” Ramo said. “Things have changed so much that I didn’t notice the rink anymore. It was a normal game for me.”
Curtis Glencross scored twice in the final two minutes, including an empty-netter with 16 seconds left for the Flames.
Ondrej Palat scored with 4:04 left in the second period for the Lightning, who are locked in a tight race with Montreal for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. However, they couldn’t get past a seemingly overmatched Flames team.
“We didn’t come out strong in the first period and that’s unfortunate,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Credit to Calgary because they played like a motivated club and had the goalie stand tall for them. Every team is going to be tough because this is the National Hockey League.”
Calgary took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period off some unfortunate stick handling by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Bishop tried to play the puck from behind the net and carelessly sent it to Cammalleri’s stick and the Calgary winger got an easy goal into the open net.
After the ensuing faceoff, Westgarth corralled a slap shot from defenceman Christopher Breen and backhanded it past Bishop on the short side to make it 2-0.
“Getting an early lead against this team is huge,” Westgarth said. “They have a pretty high-powered offence and with Steven Stamkos on the ice, no lead is safe. So getting those quick goals was nice for momentum and Karri was strong in goal.”
Palat pulled the Lightning within one as he scored off a rebound of a slap shot by Matthew Carle. Palat made a deke move to the left and flipped it past Ramo.
That was Ramo’s only mistake as he turned away multiple scoring opportunities from the Lightning in the third period including a hard wrist shot from Stamkos with 3 minutes remaining.
“It’s frustrating, very disappointing the way we played tonight,” said Stamkos.
“It felt like we didn’t want to win the game. We didn’t put together the effort we needed to tonight. We always seem to bring it together when we play the big teams but we needed one of those efforts tonight.”
Glencross sealed the win with his late goals.
“We managed to stay in the game,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley. “We knew that they would keep coming.”