Depleted Flames Strike Back 

Calgary Forges Series Lead In Game Three 


April 27th, 2004
D'ARCY MCGRATH

Them western winds were a howling.

A crazy storm front sent pre-game activities inside, and put somewhat of a damper on the usual 40 minute build up to game three in the Western Conference semi-final.

Clearly barometric pressure didn't bother the Flames however, as the home squad defied the injury law of averages and pushed ahead in their series with the Detroit Red Wings with a 3-2 win.

The Flames already down a full second line and two of five top defenceman, learned earlier in the day that Rhett Warrener wasn't able to withstand the glare and suit up in the all important game three of the series against the clearly superior Detroit squad.

No matter, the Flames received all world efforts from the Stephane Yelle and Marcus Nilson lines and pseudo fourth defenceman Mike Commodore in turning the tables on the favoured Red Wings.

Calgary got off on the right foot off the bat, getting the puck deep and causing trouble in the Detroit end. The Flames couldn't cash in on the lion's share of chances shooting wide to often despite a 3-0 edge in first period powerplays.

The Wings actually opened the scoring early in the second period when Robert Lang pounced on a crazy rebound off of his own shot, off linemate Darren McCarty's skate off a Calgary skate and back out, past Miikka Kiprusoff.

For momentum sakes, the Flames were lucky to pounce back quickly when Stephane Yelle directed a shot at Curtis Joseph through a Chris Clark screen and through the goaltender's pads.

Two minutes later the helmet-less Jarome Iginla converted his first point of the series when he took a Martin Gelinas centering pass and one timed a powerplay shot past Joseph.

The goal was the second powerplay goal scored on home ice in the playoffs, after Chris Clark scored in game six against Vancouver in the first round.

The Wings tied the score later in the period when Jiri Fischer had a point shot redirect of a Flame body and past Kiprusoff to notch the score.

The goal had a real dampening affect on the crowd, with the inevitable Detroit surge assumed to be just around the corner in the hotly contested contest.

Yet it was the Flames that bounced back, with Marcus Nilson feeding Shean Donovan in tight and beating a bewildered Curtis Joseph to put the Flames ahead to stay.

The Red Wings held a territorial advantage in the third period but weren't able to test Kiprusoff on an intimate level as the Flames marched on to victory.

The win gives the Flames a guarantee of six home dates in the 2004 playoffs, a feat that few would have imagined only four weeks ago, let alone eight months ago when the season began.

The hard luck Flames getting by with only three core defenceman and one half of their assumed top six forward brigade is a story in itself.

It will be interesting to see just how far this tale will continue. Clearly the Flames have no designs in making it a short story.

 

 

SCOREBOARD

FLAMES 3
RED WINGS 2



1. Miikka Kiprusoff The Red Wings had better hope they don't score four plus goals on this guy in game six - do so and the series is over. Kiprusoff comes up big for the sixth straight time after tough nights. 

2. Robyn Regehr A true winning force against the Red Wings' veteran assault. The Flames have a true star in their blueline midst.

3. Robert Lang The craftiest Wing on the ice, scored the team's first goal and was dangerous on numerous occasions.



Midway through the first period with the game tied at zero, the puck squeezed into the Detroit slot to a salivating Jarome Iginla who was foiled by Curtis Joseph.



Players were hit harder in this game, but no single hit meant more to the overall game psyche of the Calgary Flames then Robyn Regehr's stand up dumping of Pavel Datsyuk just seconds into the game.


"Our young guys came to play", spoke Darryl Sutter to Fan 960 after the game in direct comment to the team's injury depleted defence. "Robyn Regehr was just huge out there". Regehr was a full three minutes clear of his nearest teammate in ice time, bringing in almost 29 minutes of duty. Fitting that Theo Fleury, in the crowd, brought a standing ovation for his taped overtime goal against Edmonton on the jumbotron when the principal piece of his trade was a starring feature in a Calgary win. The presence of Fleury, a controversial figuere in Calgary, had a great past to future connection for the team and gave goose bumps to one and all. ... The Flames got butchered in the faceoff circle again, winning just 36 % of the draws. Not a single Flame center bested the break even point though Craig Conroy did manage 50%. Pavel Datsyuk and Robert Lang had a field day with Calgary centers. ... Speaking of Craig Conroy, mad did the club's number one center have a tough night handling the puck. He was truly awful down low, far too often.

LINES 
Saprykin Conroy Iginla 
Gelinas Nilson Donovan 
Nieminen Lombardi Clark 
Oliwa Yelle Kobasew

Regehr Leopold 
Ference Commodore 
Montador Evans

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