Monday, May 10, 2004

Flames heat up the tank

The Lime green hard hat went to a most deserving workman on Sunday afternoon. Miikka Kiprusoff held off a relentless Shark attack, giving his Calgary Flame team mates an opportunity to cash in on their hard work Sunday afternoon. Kiprusoff faced 52 shots, 12 of them in the overtime period as the Flames took game one of the highly anticipated Divisional final. The flames winning game one 4-3 in a thrilling overtime period.

Kirprusoff faced fifteen shots in the first period alone, yet after 20 minutes it was his Flames on top 2-0, spurred on by goals from Krzysztof Oliwa and Craig Conroy. San Jose bounced back in the second period tying the game up on markers from Mike Ricci and Todd Harvey. Conroy scored again in the third giving the Flames yet another lead, only to have the Sharks tie the game up With 3 and half minutes to go on a Steve Korolyuk goal, sending Game 1 into overtime.

Steve Montador scored the winning goal off of a perfect Jarome Iginla pass, to send the Flames up 1-0 with less than two minutes left in the first overtime period. Taking advantage of a terrible line change by the Sharks the Flames rushed into the San Jose end of the rink, Iginla taking the puck down the left wing, Montador trailing the play was busy banging his stick, finally attracting the attention of Iginla, taking the pass and sending the puck behind the stick side of Evgeni Nabakov. The Montador goal is yet another indication of the resilient nature of this Flame team, marking his first playoff goal in the NHL. On this Calgary team anyone could be a hero, a rookie defenceman, the team enforcer or a sure handed goaltender.

Overtime doesn’t scare this Flames squad; it was the fourth consecutive overtime victory for Calgary in the playoffs this year. Instead of getting tight and trying to hold on waiting for a break, the Flames take the play into the other teams end. Darryl Sutters game plan is a formula that has been successful thus far and is building confidence on this young team with every game.

While they aren’t over confident yet and there’s a lot of hockey left to play, Sutter must like what he’s been seeing so far. If you give this club a break, they’ll make you pay for it. San Jose has to make sure they don’t give the Flames three more golden gifts. This hard working team makes enough of their own luck; a freebie is something they can use to put you away.

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