Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Fanning the Flames of Determination

19,289 fans were ready to party and while there were a few bumps along the way, by the time 60 minutes of play had ended they finally got their chance to let loose. Darryl Sutter credited a total team effort, for a hard earned 3-2 Flame victory over the Red Wings Tuesday night. Jarome Iginla picked up his first goal of this series as he managed to elude the heavy blanket the Wings had put over him in games 1 and 2. Iggy was a major factor in Tuesday's game as he finally had some space to operate and cause a bit of havoc in the Detroit end of the ice.

Rolling four lines all night long the Flames took the fore-check to the Wings, beating them to the puck and getting one, two and sometimes three shots in a row on Curtis Joseph. Stephane Yelle and Shean Donovan scored the other two markers for Calgary, Robert Land and Jiri Fischer countered for the Wings.

Power play opportunities gave the Flames the chance to score and control the play for large amounts of time. A situation that wasn’t lost on Wings head coach Dave Lewis, who questioned the four straight power plays awarded to the Flames, one of which resulted in the Iginla goal in the second. Lewis expressed his frustration with the officials offering up the suggestion that as he saw it, his players were getting mugged. Ending up on the short side of a score does tend to decrease your love of the tight checking style of playoff hockey.

Both goaltenders were tested often during the game and came up big when the time came to keep things close. Curtis Joseph faced 27 shots in the Red Wing net, while Miikka Kiprusoff had 29 shots directed his way.

Game four is Thursday night, and for the Flames it’s a chance to put some added pressure on the Red Wings. Detroit is already calling Game four a must game for their Stanley Cup chances, we can expect a hard hitting, high flying affair with a hint of desperation from the Red Wing side of the ice. The hard working Flames will just keep doing what they’ve been doing all through the playoffs, sending out line after line of guys not afraid to head for the corners, take the hits and make the plays.

Thus far it’s been a recipe for success, so don’t expect Darryl Sutter to change anything now. He has his team playing a style of hockey that has the fans excited and the players believing, that could be a huge obstacle for the Red Wings to conquer. The Saddledome will be rocking once again on Thursday, if the Wings thought things were loud on Tuesday they had best prepare for Game four. Should Calgary take a 3-1 lead by the end of play on Thursday, the Saddledome may end up an open air stadium.

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