One Win Away From Lord Stanley 

June 3rd, 2004

The Thugs take the Bay?

Okay, not exactly a bumper sticker, but fitting just the same as the Calgary Flames kept up the win one lose one mantra of the Stanley Cup Final by disposing of the Tamap Bay Lightening in overtime of game five by a score of 3-2.

In the first June game in franchise history it took more than three periods to get it done, in fact almost four before an unlikely hero took the stage with five minutes left in the fourth frame.

Oleg Saprykin, the riddle wrapped around the puzzle, shoved inside the Rubix cube that Darryl Sutter has had to solve on a daily basis, came through in the extra frame converting two rebounds off the helmet less Jarome Iginla to put the Flames up by a three game to two count.

"We knew he'd play allot, both wings, all situations," said Darryl Sutter on Oleg Saprykin's roster rise due to the suspension of winger Ville Niemenin, "and he scored a big one."

"He's my roommate, I told him he'd score a big one and there's none bigger than this one", said Calgary's usual hero Martin Gelinas.

Calgary came out strong in this one, controlling the play early and exiting the first period tied one apiece, despite a level of play that would suggest a two to three goal lead.

The all important first goal in this one went to the Flames, a big key given the Flames 12-1 record in these playoffs, when Martin Gelinas tipped in a Toni Lydman powerplay point shot to put the road club up one.

With less than a minute to go in the first the Lightening gave the Flames a shake however, when Martin St. Louis took advantage off a lost edge by Calgary defenceman Robyn Regehr to put a backhand past Kiprusoff and notch the score.

Game tied at one, but the Flames feeling a little blue having deserved far better in the first period.

Calgary dug deep early in the second frame as well, carrying the play to the tune of a period shot advantage of 14-3. 

Finally Jarome Iginla put his club back out in front when he beat a somewhat sleepy Khabibulin with a shot off the boards and over his pad to put the Flames up 2-1.

Early in the third period Calgary veteran Rhett Warrener took a somewhat questionable penalty for holding the miraculously still walking Vincent Lecavalier just 30 seconds into the final frame.

Just a handful of seconds after that the Bolts tied the score when Fredrik Modin found the handle between the coverage of Calgary defencemen Regehr and Jordan Leopold to tie the score.

From there overtime was inevitable.

Tampa came out strong in the extra frame, carrying a territorial edge despite generating much in the way of true chances in close to Kiprusoff.

Late in the period momentum switched toward Calgary when the Flames captain, Iginla, lost his helmet. Calgary fans likely thought back to game three in the Detroit series when Iginla scored a key goal without his lid, and this was the case this time despite the delay in action.

On his second shift, the lidless Iginla took a Marcus Nilson pass and one timed it toward the Tampa goal. Saprykin picked up the rebound and whacked the winner home.

"Nilson made a great pass to me to get the original shot, Oly was banging away in there. He played so well all night. So good to see him get that goal," said the gracious captain Iginla.

"It's simple when you lose all the battles through 40," said Lightning coach John Tortorella. "It was a turnover and them rammed it down our throats".

The Flames return to Calgary for game six and a chance to launch the Red Mile of all Red Miles with a Stanley Cup win on a Saturday night.

Amazing ... a season that was aimed at a playoff spot now has a two game shot at a Stanley Cup. I'm sure I'm not the only one that has yet to have the levity of this situation to sink in.

Never the less, the situation is the situation, and Calgarians have all summer to put the events in their place.

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y ... any Bay City Roller fans out there?

Don't expect the Flames to look past the next 60 minutes, at least not according to Iginla.

"We're going to enjoy this game for half and hour and that's it. As far as the Lightening being desperate, we plan on being desperate as well."






1) Jarome Iginla - Scored the go ahead goal in the second period and assisted on Oleg Saprykyn's overtime winner sans hat.

2) Oleg Saprykin - Can anyone think of a better way to teach an enigmatic young Russian player how to play than a deep playoff run and an overtime winner in game five?

3) Martin St. Louis - A rough and tumble game on the Tampa blueline, a key guy with Kubina out.

Nikolai Khabibulin had to be great early as the Flames carried the play in the first two periods. No save stood out more than the first period pad save on Calgary star Jarome Iginla when Khabibulin kept the score 1-0 with a clutch save.

Big meets bigger? Former Flame Chris Dingman stood up current Flame Robyn Regher when Dingman ran into the Flame defender in the Calgary zone in the overtime period.

Shean Donovan suffered a charley horse late in the game but should be back for game six. ... Darryl Sutter told reporters that Toni Lydman made the call to dress tonight. "I thought he kept his ... it's not easy ... he missed 20 games and he's had four days of practice. One of those high end skill guys that we missed". Said Lydman, "the decision was just after warm-up, I felt pretty good considering the time off, but the adrenalin took over". ... The Flames tied the New Jersey Devils for the most wins in a playoff year with ten on the playoffs. They have three against the Canucks, two against the Wings, three against the Sharks and two against the Bolts, and clearly, they hope they don't get a chance to break the record. ... "We were able to hang in there, I think in the playoffs, if you lose a game you get that much more desperate, I think everybody in our room tries to rev it up" ... Jarome Iginla on rebounding from a game four loss. ... The Flames out shot the Lightening by a 36-28 margin, including 25-12 through two periods. ... How effective was Darryl Sutter's day off tirade? Hard to say, but he did knock the officials out of the game to a tune of two powerplays apiece. Both clubs were one for two on the night. ... A bit of a surprise, Jarome Iginla surpassed all defencemen with 29 minutes of ice time, edging Andrew Ference and Jordan Leopold for ice. ... The Flames lost the dot battle taking only 44% of faceoffs. ... The Flames complete the circuit going a perfect 4-0 in game fives in these playoffs. Now they need to improve their game six mark to 3-1.


Gelinas Conroy Iginla 
Saprykin Nilson Donovan 
Simon Yelle Clark 
Oliwa Kobasew Lowry

Regehr Montador 
Ference Lydman 
Warrener Leopold

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