Calgary Jitters Result In Loss 

Flames Less than Special with Special Teams

April 7th, 2004

So much for the underdog!

Much has been made about NHL parity over the past few days with talking head after talking head suggesting each series up for grabs and some clubs, like the Flames easy money to upset.

Not in game one on night one, as the four hosting clubs marched to victory, including the Vancouver Canucks to the tune of a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames.

Coming in, if someone was to suggest that the Flames would score three goals in GM Place in game one I would have to assume a victory, what with Miikka Kiprusoff manning the cage in the Calgary zone. But this was no ordinary night.

Similarly, if one suggested the Flames would strike twice on the powerplay then add an even strength goal from fourth liner Krzysztof Oliwa, once again I'd assume imminent success.

Instead it was the Vancouver Canucks who managed to connect on almost every chance they were given in scoring five times - four with the man advantage and once with an extra attacker with a man advantage to come - that turned the tide in a bizarre return to post season play for the Calgary Flames.

"I thought our top players had a jittery night", said coach Darryl Sutter after the game. "And we still almost won", he hinted to the opposition to gain an inch in a series that is still likely to stretch a long way.

Truth be known the Flames were the better club five on five, though the five on five stretches in this game were few and far between and totaling very little on the time clock.

All told the Flames were two for 10 on the powerplay while the Canucks solved the unsolvable Kiprusoff four times on six chances.

And Kiprusoff wasn't that bad.

The Canucks built a two goal lead early in the game when they converted back to back Ville Nieminen penalties in the first five minutes on just two shots to forge ahead 2-0.

First Martin Rucinsky got a piece of a point shot, with the puck bouncing past Kiprusoff on the deflection. Minutes later the Canucks struck again when Sami Salo fired a bullet through a screen.

Two goals, two shots, and no chance for the Calgary goaltender.

The Flames climbed back into things when they turned a Vancouver too many men on the ice penalty into two powerplay goals in 28 seconds when Chris Simon and Oleg Saprykin hit the board.

The game essentially changed back to Vancouver's favour for good when the Canucks' scored a fluke goal on yet another powerplay.

Brent Sopel brought the puck out of the corner and tried to center a pass to Daniel Sedin, but the puck glanced off of Jordan Leopold's skate and into the net.

"We need to get our feet moving, we simply weren't good enough", stated Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, who truth be known, didn't file his best game of the season.

In a series picked by many to be tight, Marcus Naslund out-dueled Calgary's leader, and Dan Cloutier was better than Kiprusoff, a bang-bang trend that can't continue if Calgary wishes to carry this welcome back party another round.

But with that said, all the pressure still sits on the Canucks as they attempt to avoid a Calgary split in Vancouver before play resumes in Cowtown on Sunday night.

A Flame win on Friday will go a long way to forgive an forget some opening night jitters.

This upset story may just have a few more chapters.






1) Brendan Morrison - A nifty goal to make if 5-2 Canucks, and added two assists.

2) Marcus Naslund - Three assists for the club captain in a winning cause.

3) Jordan Leopold - Two assists and a +1 isn't a bad night's work for a defenceman in his first playoff game.

Shortly after the Canucks went back ahead by a score of 3-2, Toni Lydman walked in from the point and blasted away at Dan Cloutier, only to have the Canuck stopper stick out his pad and keep the lead.

Krzysztof Oliwa caught Marik Malik admiring a head man pass in the neutral zone during the third period, drilling the defender into the boards.

Amazing the difference Toni Lydman made to the puck movement on the Calgary powerplay. Two goals from this squad is good work, it's the usually sharp penalty killing that had a tough night. ... A huge silver lining to the game for Calgary was the reaction of Dan Cloutier to the rough stuff. After the game he muttered, "four or five years ago that stuff would have bothered me, but not any more", which is a good quote, but far from convincing given the goalie's end of game slash to the back of Marcus Nilson's leg. He was rattled, no doubt about it, but he won. ... Ville Nieminen had a tough night for the Flames. Three times he was called for minor penalties, three times the puck ended up in the Calgary net. Two of them were silly mistakes on his part. ... The Flames actually kept the Canucks way down when it came to shots on goal and scoring chances, outshooting the home side 29-22. While you couldn't blame Kiprusoff for any goal, he wasn't his usual super-human self in taking away some of the tough ones. ... Jordan Leopold led all Calgary skaters with over 25 minutes of ice time in his first playoff game. Newbie, Robyn Regehr was second with almost 24. ... Mattias Ohlund played just 18 seconds less the Leopold to pace the Canucks.

Simon Conroy Iginla 
Gelinas Lombardi Clark 
Nieminen Nilson Donovan 
Oliwa Saprykin Kobasew

Regehr Leopold 
Gauthier Warrener 
Ference Lydman

  Back to
Read other Stories
Talk About it!