Heading back to San Jose with the series knotted at two was not what the Flames had envisioned after winning a pair in San Jose to take a 2-0 series lead. Certainly, most of the Flames players weren't thinking sweep on that flight back home to Calgary but a split and a 3-1 stranglehold seemed entirely possible.
Unfortunately, things didn't quite happen the way the Flames players and fans wanted them to so here we are beginning yet another best-of-three series tonight (CBC/ESPN, 8:00 p.m. MT).
But then again, when has this team ever done things the easy way? The easy way would have been defeating Vancouver in game six of the first round. The easy way would have been preventing the Canucks from tying game seven up with five seconds left. The easy way would have resulted in a win over Detroit in game four to take a 3-1 series lead in the second round.
All that Flames fans can hope for is that the team has put their past two defeats behind them and they come out with a sound effort this evening.
FLAMES KEYS TO SUCCESS:
The Sharks have now drawn even in the series but the Flames are still a win away from pushing the Sharks to the brink of elimination and still have a game back at home Wednesday.
Jarome Iginla is clearly getting frustrated by the Sharks tandem checking. He needs to get back to doing what makes him successful, which is find an opening in the midst of traffic and get the puck on net.
Kiprusoff needs to be better than he was on Sunday. All season long following an average performance he's come back with a superhuman one. Is there something left in the tank for one more?
HOME VS. ROAD...
Craig Conroy came up with only one assist in these past two games, but has been much better on the road throughout the postseason with four goals and four assists with a +4 rating away from home. At the Saddledome he has no goals and three assists in eight games.
Shean Donovan has four points in this series and is a +2 but was held without a point in the past two games. Oddly enough, Donovan has been more effective on the road in these playoffs with five points (two goals, three assists) and a +4 away from the Saddledome compared to only three points in eight games and a -3 rating at home. The oddity is that Donovan was so much better at home (15 goals, 13 assists, +12) than on the road (3 goals, 11 assists, +2) during the regular season.
Martin Gelinas has been Calgary's best performer at the Saddledome with seven points (3g, 4a) in eight games, with Jarome Iginla second at six points (3g, 3a) and Chris Clark third at five points (2g, 3a).
Iginla, with five goals and four assists for nine points in nine games leads the way for Calgary on the road followed by Conroy's eight points and a tie at five points between Donovan and Jordan Leopold (five assists).
Calgary: Dean McAmmond (back) and Steve Reinprecht (shoulder) are both out for the rest of the season. Denis Gauthier (leg) is out. Matthew Lombardi (concussion) is doubtful. Toni Lydman (concussion) could return if it goes seven games but is still questionable at best in that situation.
San Jose: Milan Michalek (knee) and Marco Sturm (ankle/leg) are out for the season. Scott Parker (hand) could play if called upon.
In 15 back-to-back games, the Calgary Flames this season had six wins, six losses, two ties and one overtime loss. Two of those losses were to San Jose… The Sharks were a very good team on the second game of back-to-back affairs. During the regular season, they had seven wins, three losses, four ties and one overtime loss. They also played back-to-back playoff games against the St. Louis Blues and on the second night they won 4-3. Overall, the Sharks are riding a five-game winning streak on the second game in back-to-back situations… With Jarome Iginla's goal on Sunday, the Flames are now 6-1 when he scores in these playoffs. The Flames are 0-3 when Chris Simon scores in the playoffs… The Flames are 8-77 on the power play in these playoffs (10.1%) but are slightly better on the road at 12.8% (5-for-39)… How times have changed: after four games, the Flames have ten goals against the Sharks. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was 1995 and Calgary had nine goals in one game against San Jose—23 in total after the fourth game.
"Yeah, we have done pretty well (in the second period), but I guess it's just we have capitalized and got more bounces in the second period for some reason. It's hard to explain. We're trying to play the same way throughout the whole game. But the second period's been real good for us. Done real well for us." -- Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo on San Jose's success in the second period throughout these playoffs and especially in this series.
"It's back to square one. Obviously we have to win a home game here. I bet you a lot of people in San Jose didn't think we're were coming back and having an opportunity to play tomorrow. So just show up and be able to support us. Our team really showed the heart of a lion coming in an a tough place and winning two games and relatively convincingly tonight. So we do have some momentum, but the crowd can be a factor and hopefully they will be supporting us tomorrow."
-- The Great Ron Wilson saying the crowd can be factor even though he said the crowd can't be a factor following game three.
"There's no advantage. I know the team we're playing has many guys from the west. They might consider it home-ice advantage, to be quite honest. I'll tell you what, if I was a player from western Canada and – and I'm not saying it because we're Calgary, but if I was a player from western Canada, wouldn't matter what team I was on, if I came in this building, I'd get excited. I don't know how that's an advantage. It's an advantage of where you're from."
-- Flames head coach and GM Darryl Sutter on the importance of home ice advantage.
"Hey, man, if somebody told us we would be 2-2 in the conference finals, I'm sure we would say, hey, that's where we want to be. But my biggest concern is we had two or three guys -- and I know you're playing guys out of role a little bit, but we had a couple guys not play very well for us tonight. So I know they have to play better for us to beat the team we're playing. That's what concerns me more than where we're at or where we're playing."