Karri Ramo tried to play down such talk, but those around the Calgary Flames netminder think he was under-stating what it meant to him.
Ramo’s return to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team he bolted from without much resistance some four years ago, was a roaring success, thanks to a dream offensive start and a 31-save performance in Calgary’s 4-1 victory Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
“It’s good to get a win. There’s some familiar faces I saw, not on the ice, so many, and it’s nice to get a win here,” Ramo said. “That team is playing so well, so for us to come with a couple tough games before it … it was a good game.
“Everybody pitched in.”
Everybody pitched in, but Ramo indeed had the biggest hand in the result, especially while his squad was under siege in the final two periods, during which he faced 27 shots before the announced crowd of 17,495.
“Goalies, I think it’s easy mental preparation when you’re playing against your old team,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. “As a coach, I always hate to coach against former goalies because you know they want to beat you bad.
“Karri, once again, was very, very solid.”
He had to be especially solid. The Flames had a pair of forwards in Matt Stajan and Paul Byron return to Calgary for personal reasons, which added more pressure on those in the lineup.
And with the season-ending shoulder injury to Tyler Wotherspoon, the already depleted defence corps took another hit and ended up needing minor-league defenceman in Chad Billins and Chris Breen to make up their final pairing.
“I think they played pretty well,” Flames winger Kevin Westgarth, whose first period goal held up for the winner, said of the Lightning. “They had some chances that Rammer absolutely stole from them.
“I don’t think it was one of our best games, execution-wise, but once again the effort’s there and playing with that blue-collar mentality and it ended up paying dividends again.”