Wings Even Score With Strong 3rd 

Flames and Detroit Battle in Best of Three 

April 29th, 2004

Ah, it couldn't have been that easy.

Not with the Flames.

Up 2-1 in their best of seven Western Conference semi-final series with Detroit after a stirring victory on Monday night, Calgary had the opportunity of a lifetime to bury the Presidents Trophy champion Wings with a win on home ice but Mathieu Dandeneault spoiled the parade, tapping in a Tomas Holmstrom rebound at 10:02 of the third period to give the visitors an eventual 4-2 win in front of 19,289 despondent fans at the Saddledome.

The pivotal victory allowed the Wings to avoid heading back to Detroit down 3-1 in games, instead evening the series at two apiece with the scene shifting to Joe Louis Arena for an afternoon game on Saturday.

Calgary has had a magical season to date but also has a predilection for taking the hardest route possible to eventual success, needing numerous whacks to the head of Vancouver before eventually felling the Canucks in a Game 7 overtime thriller.

In surrendering the hard fought home ice advantage they'd gained against the Wings, they're now forced to win a second time against one of the best home teams in the NHL if they're to eventually win this series, a series virtually no one predicted they would have a chance at in the first place.

For the Wings, it was all about bringing an "A" game at a decisive moment in the post-season.

"Every individual worked for one purpose and that was the end result," said Detroit coach Dave Lewis after the game.

"I thought tonight we raised our level and I thought that's what we had to do to even this series," said Draper after the game on FAN960.

To say this one didn't start well for Calgary would be an understatement, Detroit opening scoring only 26 seconds into the game, Kris Draper looping around the Calgary net, flipping the puck out front and finding a wide open Kirk Maltby who launched a perfect shot over Kiprusoff's glove hand.

Calgary failed to clear their zone early in the second period and found themselves down 2-0 when Boyd Devereaux drilled a screen shot through the legs of Kiprusoff at 3:00.

But the Flames came roaring back with two goals in 18 seconds, shattering a club playoff record set against Los Angeles in 1990.

Martin Gelinas benefited from a nifty little tap pass out of a scrum in front of Joseph by Jarome Iginla, the Calgary winger throwing the puck into the open net at 5:45.

Shortly after, Shean Donovan drove into the Detroit zone, pivoted, was flattened but pushed the puck to Ville Nieminen as he was going down, setting up the mini-drama of the night.

With all the time and space in the world, the rest of the players on the ice frozen in awe, Nieminen and Joseph began a dance that seemed to last forever, the Wings goalie gradually leaning right as Nieminen dangled and dangled before going to the backhand and roofing the puck just under the crossbar at 6:03, tying the game in stunning fashion.

Flames took over from there for a great swath of the game, pinning the ears back on the Wings and nearly taking the lead when a two on one saw Joseph brilliantly stopping Donovan' crease tip attempt on a two on one break with Nieminen.

But the Wings would eventually get the breaks they would need, taking advantage of Calgary's numerous fumbles to clear the puck and hemming the Flames in their own zone for what seemed like an eternity, nearly finishing a complete line change while the Calgary floundered on tired legs, Holmstrom eventually getting a shot on Kiprusoff and the puck trickling through to lie in the crease for the waiting stick of Dandeneault halfway through the third period.

"Those are the kind of goals you have to get at this time of the year," said Lewis. "There's not a lot of pretty one's."

"They certainly brought more energy . . . . and they capitalized on their opportunities," said Steve Montador after the game on FAN 960, one of the guilty parties on the eventual game winner.

Henrik Zetterberg iced the cake with an empty net goal at 19:36.

Calgary is now 6-1 in these playoffs when they surrender two or fewer goals . . . . and 0-4 when they give up three or more. In other words, it 's a simple formula if you're Calgary. Defence is their bread and butter.

Making a workmanlike win by Detroit worse for Calgary was the inexplicable running of Joseph by Nieminen as time was running out, causing a rhubarb but no doubt giving the Wings something to focus on for the next game.

Nieminen received a five minute charging call and a game misconduct on the play. Will he be suspended? A team losing bodies left right and centre can ill afford the risk.

"I think he violated a code," said Lewis. "I think it's a suspendible offence."

Statistically, Detroit did have a single power play in this game but it came with only three seconds remaining meaning the Flames didn't have to actually kill any extra man situations, an odd occurrence. Flames had two power plays and failed to score.

Detroit outshot the Flames 29-27.

Next up is Saturday in Detroit, the next and latest biggest game of the season for the upstart Flames.






1) Kris Draper - "This is the best time to be a hockey player," said Draper before the game on FAN 960."It's exciting. The building here is going to be on fire." So was he with a goal and an assist. 

2) Shean Donovan - Was a poor man's Jarome Iginla on this night, driving the Detroit defence insane with his lightning speed and tough physical game. 

3) Kirk Malby - Scored the opener and was a physical presence all night, buzzing with Maltby and giving the Flames fits.

The Flames were flying after tying the game 2-2 early in the second period when Nieminen blocked a shot at the Calgary line, rocketed the length of the ice and fed a charging Donovon with a sure-thing cross crease pass . . . . only to have Joseph bull his way across to put his pads on the deflection.

Halfway through the first period Shean Donovan was sent flying with a shot to the head from Brendan Shanahan, one of many heavy hits delivered by the big Detroit winger.

Brendan Evans picked up 2:58 in ice time in the first period and 5:11 overall, a vast improvement on the 32 seconds he earned in Game 3. The call-up was put in the line of fire in the absence of injured Rhett Warrener and acquitted himself so well that. . . . . well, you never noticed him. A good thing. . . . . . This was Brett Hull's 200th playoff game. His first was in a Calgary uniform and also at the Saddledome. . . . . . Andrew Ference played 9:03 of the first period and 27:21 overall to lead the Flames. Mathieu Schneider logged 27:35 for the Wings. . . . . . Draper was kicked out of the opening faceoff of the game, but sheepishly admitted later it's not uncommon for him. . . . . . Craig Conroy was 68% for the Flames in the faceoff circle while Kris Draper was 59% for the Wings. The teams were dead even at 50% each. . . . . . "Faceoffs cost us two goals tonight and two goals the last game," said Sutter after the game, the Calgary coach mellowing a bit in praising his defence corps but singling out Jordan Leopold for improvement. . . . . . ."We might get some guys back the longer it goes," said Sutter, hinting some of the wounded might be nearing a return to reinforce the lineup.

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

Regehr Leopold 
Ference Commodore 
Montador Evans

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