Back from the forest after surrendering our flesh to the mosquito hordes, we regret to report that the mosquitoes won the great camping playoff in OT. As we sat and scratched, we immediately parked our butt in front of the television, as the VCR played back another impressive Flames Victory. A game that puts Calgary only two wins away from Stanley success.
Once again it was the big players who made the difference, Jarome Iginla with his Gordie Howe hat trick and Miikka Kiprusoff with his fifth playoff shut out this year showed the Calgary fans that a party may just be around the corner.
Iginla once again took up the leadership challenge, his physical play dominating the night, as his offensive skills led the Flames to success on the score sheet. The more you watch of the young St. Albert star play, the more you realize just how important he is to the Flames, his work ethic alone must have Mama Sutter thinking that son Darryl should bring the lad home for dinner, he’d fit right in with the rest of family.
Iginla did it all on Saturday (tape delayed for me, but still worth watching) as he set the physical pace early as he and Vincent Lecavalier took to scrapping in the first. And full credit to Lecavalier for his physical play of late, willing to take his lumps in aid of his team, he’s filling out his game nicely. Taking on a sizeable force as Iginla shows a lot about his character and will to win. But to be fair on Saturday night, that scrap set the tone for the Flames emphasizing that the game was in their house and they wouldn’t be pushed around.
It was tough night all around for Tampa, as Ruslan Fedetenko was checked into the end boards and left the game with an undisclosed injury, though one must think concussion after watching his head smash into the little riser around the glass at the end of the rink. Fedetenko is listed as day to day, though you would think that if there is any possible way he can play he’ll be in the line up for game four.
You know the stars are aligning nicely when your renowned tough guy is the one who scores the opening goal, after a scoreless first period; Simon put the Flames on the board with a power play goal at 13:53 assisted by Iginla. For Simon it was his fourth power play marker in this playoff run, giving him four of the six Calgary Power goals in the post season.
Shean Donovan scored the second Flame goal at the 17 minute point of the second period, settting Calgary nicely for the third when they could sit back and protect their own end.
Iginla put the game away in the latter stages of the third with his power play goal at 18 minutes of the final period. Tampa did not go easy, out shooting the Flames 21-18 but coming up far too short on the scoring summary. And the reason was simple Miikka Kiprusoff.
Once again the Flames goaltender came up with an amazing game to shut out the Lightning. It was Kiprusoff’s fifth shut out of the playoffs, and his run is quickly elevating up to, if not putting past that Mike Vernon status in Calgary. Known as Kipper at the Saddledome, his fame is spawning a sign making boom in Cowtown, it seems that fan after fan has a home made novena in honour of the latest Saint of Calgary.
The tit for tat nature of these games has been an interesting thing to watch. Calgary wins big one night; Tampa comes right back the next to step up to the challenge. The puck is now back in the Tampa end of the ice, A Calgary win on Monday night gives them a choke hold on this final and may make them unstoppable in the quest.
If Tampa responds to the challenge of Coach John Tortorella, elevating their game on Monday then the whole dynamic changes again. Game four looms large for both teams; expect a physically demanding game with goaltending again proving to be a key. Back to back shutouts would give Kipper the key to the city, there’s a very good chance he’ll be holding on to one, or sharing it with Jarome by the end of this series.