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Flames Dominate Pens; Take Series Lead

By Aaron McCracken
May 22, 2001

The Saint John Flames took a major step towards winning the Calder Cup on Monday night with a 4-1 win in Wilkes-Barre, giving them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven final.

Daniel Tkaczuk, Marty Murray, and Sergei Varlamov each had a goal and an assist, while Martin Brochu made 30 saves in a very solid performance for his 12th playoff win.

The Flames opened strong with several good scoring chances early in the game. Their hard work was rewarded at 14:48 of the frame when Chris Clark took a feed from Daniel Tkaczuk and flicked it by Pens' goalie Rich Parent. The Pens generated several chances of their own, but couldn't beat Martin Brochu.

The Flames started the 2nd period similar to the first, and went up 2-0 on a Daniel Tkaczuk tip-in shot on the Power Play. Tkaczuk won the draw back and headed to a perfect position to tip a Steve Montador point shot. The Pens came back just over a minute later on a power play of their own when Eric Meloche shot a bullet from 50 feet out that beat Brochu glove side. Although the momentum seemed to be in Wilkes-Barre's favor, Steve Begin changed things late in the period with two crushing hits on Pens' defenseman Josef Melichar. Shortly thereafter, Marty Murray scored his first goal in almost a month on a pretty feed from Sergei Varlamov, giving the Flames a 3-1 lead. During the goal celebration, Pens' centre Darcy Verot took a slashing penalty, and the Flames went up 4-1 on the subsequent power play. Murray streaked over the line and found Varlamov in the high slot, who roofed a 40-foot slap shot for his 15th of the playoffs.

The Flames were content with the 4-1 lead in the 3rd and managed to clog up the neutral zone for the majority of the period. For their part, the Pens were unable to generate any sustained pressure throughout the frame, and despite their 31 shots on goal, had very few legitimate scoring chances. Rich Parent made 32 saves, but was unable to come up big when needed. The Pens will need a better effort from everyone if they hope to even the series in the next game.

Game four is Wednesday night, 8:30 Atlantic time.

News and Notes

    - Sergei Varlamov set a team playoff record with his 15th goal and 21st point, eclipsing the records held by Ladislav Kohn in 1997-98.
    - Pens' Jason MacDonald left the game with an undisclosed injury. He could be replaced by Milan Kraft on Wednesday if Pittsburgh is eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
    - Billy Tibbetts made his Calder Cup debut after missing the first two games due to immigration restrictions. Tibbetts, who served 3 years in a US Federal Penitentiary, made the following comments before the game:
    - "Hopefully the immigration officials will come to their senses and let me play the greatest game in the world."
    - "Yeah, I watched the games (one and two) on TV. It was interesting watching some of the St. John's (sic) kids. I don't think any of them should be in the NHL, maybe in a few years from now. None of them impressed me."
    - "I think I'm stronger than any of them" (in reference to Flames' players).
    - "I couldn't have had a better first season. I got to play with the best player in the world (Lemieux), I got to play in the NHL playoffs, and now I'm playing in the AHL playoffs".

    Flames Goals

    1. Clark (Tkaczuk, Walser)

    2. Tkaczuk (Montador, Dupont) PP

    3. Murray (Varlamov)

    4. Varlamov (Murray) PP

    Aaron's Three Stars

    3. Marty Murray

    2. Sergei Varlamov

    1. Daniel Tkaczuk

    Lines and Roster update

    Murray Varlamov Botterill

    Tkaczuk Begin -- Clark

    Betts Roche Fata

    Morgan Royer

    Walser Martin

    Montador Scoville

    Mrozik Dupont

    Scratches: Chris St. Croix (healthy), Bobby Russell (healthy), Jeff Mitchell (healthy), Jamie Ling (healthy), Miika Elomo (out), Kenny Corupe (out), Doug Doull (undisclosed injury, out), Dany Sabourin (healthy).