Flames fans, management, and players all should be happy to return to
the friendly confines of the Pengrowth Saddledome with a split against
a team that the media has been sharp to remind us went on a massive
winning streak after the acquisition of Brian Campbell, a seventh seed
playing a predicted Stanley Cup champion contender, and being massively
out shot in the first two games of the series.
With the "C/sea" of red in full force the Flames should have been able
to come out ready to jump on the jugular of the San Jose Sharks and
make them prove that the Sharks success on the road just might not be
the same in the playoffs. But as we know, this Flames team is one that
has had trouble getting ready to come out prepared for the start of the
game, but as we Flames fans have known all season long, never count the
For anyone who said that this series was going to be an easy win for the Sharks... You have to pay more attention.
On The Line
With the series coming back to Calgary even, the Flames accomplished
what the road team always wants, they had home ice advantage. Getting
that second win helps the confidence of the team and puts more pressure
on the Sharks.
The puck dropped and the Flames were still in the stands getting hot
dogs and beer. A weak penalty call on Stephane Yelle and a missed check
by Vandermeer and Ryan Clowe, the chink in Miikka Kiprusoff's armor has
his third goal of the series. Before the home crowd can get a "Go
Flames Go!" chant started Patrick Marleau tips a Ryan Clowe shot behind
a startled Miikka Kiprusoff and it's 2-0. Just seconds after that
Miikka Kiprusoff over commits on Jonathan Cheechoo and "BAM!" Douglas
Murray makes it 3-0. Just like that Miikka Kiprusoff's night is over
and Flames fans, Sharks fans, and pretty much anyone else paying
attention to this game goes: "well that's it for the Flames."
Then something happened. Cory Sarich committed the act that should be
his saving grace to all the Flames fans who have wanted to lynch him
all season long. He saw a chance to completely destroy Patrick Marleau
and he took it. In a hit heard 'round the world Sarich stepped up on
Marleau just as he put his head down to check out the puck in his feet
and Sarich obliterated Marleau. That hit sparked the crowd, the team,
EVERYONE except the Sharks. On the ensuing power play the Flames
quickly got themselves a hand hold on the cliff the Sharks had pushed
them over. The comeback was ON!
In the second period the Flames once again came out rather timid, but
the Sharks were doing everything they could to try and play out the
game. If you ask me a Stanley Cup contender is going to go for it all
night long. But the Flames slowly chipped away the Sharks getting
rushes and chances whenever they could and when Eric Nystrom working
hard to get past Kyle McLaren drew an elbowing penalty the Flames had
their chance to get one step closer and they took it. Owen Nolan from
the corner fed the puck to Jarome Iginla who got the puck on net and
Daymond Langkow on the doorstep slammed the puck into the net. It's
seriously a game now people!
The third period started and while I'm washing my hands after going to
the bathroom I have the odd sensation that something good has just
happened. Call me a psychic; because, just over a minute in Dion
Phaneuf puts an easy shot on net with traffic in front and it's a tie
game kids! Suddenly the timid Sharks were in a serious heap of trouble.
Still unable to muster much on the Calgary goal outside of power play
time where Curtis Joseph and the rest of the Flames penalty killers
were absolutely brilliant, the Flames were starting to show signs of
completing the epic comeback. And with less than four minutes remaining
in the third period a simple play took place. Alex Tanguay took the
puck from behind the net fed it to Owen Nolan and Nolan uttered the
following words: "BACK IN MY DAY WE SCORED GAME WINNING GOALS WITH SLAP
SHOTS!" and fired a bullet into the withered heart of the San Jose
1 - Cory Sarich: The hit Sarich laid on Patrick Marleau was
the type of hit that is so monumental it's the type that can turn the
momentum of a series. I guess we'll have to wait and see about that,
but he is definitely the hero of game 3.
2 - Curtis Joseph: Many questioned the signing of Curtis Joseph,
myself included. But what a way for the true old man of the team to
come into the game. His team is down 3-0 with no pressure on him other
than stop the bleeding. But Joseph did more, he stopped the 22 shots
the Sharks threw at him and held the team together to help complete the
3 - Owen Nolan: The Irish God of War is here and he's coming for you.. What, oh what, do you think you can do?
Early in the game you would be thinking that one of Evgeni Nabokov's
saves on Daymond Langkow, of which he had two in the first two periods
would do the trick, but then in the third with the Sharks on the power
play and the game tied, Joseph stoned the Sharks over and over again to
preserve the Flames chance to win.
Look no further than Sarich's hit on Marleau. SARICH SMASH!
It would be easy to put the target on Miikka Kiprusoff or the starting
pressure of the Calgary Flames, but there is a bigger goat here, and
that is the heart and determination of the San Jose Sharks. As was
touched on earlier, the Sharks had their skate on the collective throat
of the Flames and they took it off. After the first three minutes of
the game, the Sharks looked to coast through the rest of the game. Even
as the Flames started to claw back hand over hand the Sharks continued
to try and coast through the rest of the game. For a team that is
supposed to completely dominate the Flames as many in the media would
have you believe, this kind of behaviour is completely inappropriate.
You got what you deserved tonight San Jose.
The Calgary Flames penalty killers. After allowing the first goal just
a minute into the game, the Flames shut down the Sharks completely.
Especially impressive was the job the penalty killers did on a too many
men call in the second period and a high sticking call on Matthew
Lombardi. The best chances for the Sharks to put more pressure on the
Flames and they reduced the Sharks to nothing.
Odds and Ends
There are little things that you notice from time to time. Like Eric
Nystrom pumping up the crowd as the Flames went off the ice after the
third period, or how when the "Go Flames Go!" chant before the start of
the game was enough to send shivers down your spine, yet curiously the
Flames looked...nervous. One would hope that they would hear that and
think: "Listen to them! Listen to the energy in this building. This is
for us, now lets have fun." but the nervousness was what took over. But
you know what is most telling of all? The personality that Curtis
Joseph was exuding after the win. He was making jokes, he was talking
about how he wants to do whatever he can for the team and wants to play
whenever he can.
We all know Miikka Kiprusoff is a serious competitor. He wants to bring
everything to the rink and he wants to make a difference. So will these
three quick goals in game three have any impact on him? I don't think
so. His demeanor after the game as he came off the ice with Joseph
tells me that he's in this for the team.
Lastly, and once again dealing with Joseph, the Flames have confidence
when they have the cagey veteran in the net behind them. Something that
the Flames have desperately missed in the past couple of years with the
round robin tournament of netminding cast-offs that have seen duty
behind Miikka Kiprusoff. That kind of attitude is incredible in games
like these. But what I'd like to see the Flames do for the rest of this
series is play more like they do in front of Joesph when they have
Kiprusoff in net. That'll shut a whole lot of people up.
This is a weird one...The Sharks completely collapsed and the Flames
came back from a huge deficit to win, so you'd think that the Flames
have all the momentum and you're probably right. But desperation and
pressure can make teams do strange things, so to expect the same void
where the Sharks determination should have been is probably wrong and
the Flames need to remember this.
Calgary brings more waves to the Sea of Red on Tuesday night. For all
those in attendance, watch some of the highlights of tonight's game and
see what wearing white makes the Sea look like. WEAR RED! Game starts
at 8PM. Delay the CBC feed slightly and listen on the Fan 960 online.