It was sing a long night at GM place, as the Calgary Flames and Vancouver hit the high notes in a penalty filled affair in Vancouver. From the sing a long offered up by anthem singer Mark Donnelly, to singing in the aisles at the end of the game Canuck fans were in high spirits as their Canucks started the playoffs the same way they ended up the regular season, with a big 5-3 win in front of the usual sell out GM Place crowd!
Referees Don Koharski and Eric Furlatt must have been humming too much time on my hands. The two spent a good portion of the game with arm raised ready to dispense justice. And for Vancouver the constant parade of Flame visitors to the penalty box served them well. Left winger Ville Nieminen, was sent off three times and the Vancouver power play responded on each one, putting some fire back into a power play that had gone cold for a while now. Up until tonight, the Canucks had scored only once on twenty one chances in their last seven games. Vancouver tallied goals on four of six power play opportunities in tonight’s game while Calgary had 10 extra man advantages, scoring on only two of them.
Mattias Ohlund and Ed Jovanovski had big nights on the blue line, boxing Flames up in the Canucks end and clearing the puck at key times. On the offense the Canucks once again played the in your face kind of game that gave them early success, one they had gotten away from as the season progressed. Taking advantage of screens in front of Kiprusoff, the Canucks managed to bang in rebounds and blast shots from the point to help secure the win. Vancouver got off to an early two to nothing lead, only to see the tenacious Flames storm back to tie the game up at 2 early in the second.
The sudden flurry of Flame goals seemed to help the Canucks to focus on the job at hand, quickly re-taking the lead and then adding to it as the second period came to an end. The teams traded goals in the third the Canucks hanging onto the two goal spread as time wound down. Dan Cloutier faced 22 shots on the way to his game one win in the nets, but paid a price with many Flames crowding his crease and running the net. Miika Kiprusoff had 29 shots to handle and wasn’t as sharp as he has been at times in the regular season. Though to be fair the Calgary defence did not do a stellar job of clearing the net and he had to deal with all those power play opportunities.
At the end of the game the towel waving, anthem singing crowd took their vocal chords out onto the streets of Vancouver. With one win under their belt, they have expectations of greatest hits to come on Friday night.