Monday, April 14, 2008

A momentum changer

It started out as a possible horror show for the Calgary Flames, but by the time that the Flames Owen Nolan put away goal number four with less than four minutes remaining in the third period, all the horror was heading the way to San Jose.

In one of the most impressive comebacks in recent playoff history, the Calgary Flames down three to nothing within the first four minutes of play, turned around a game that seemed totally out of their control.

San Jose launched into the Flames with an intensity that seemed destined to put an exclamation mark on the series and subdue a noisy throng in the Pengrowth Saddledome on Sunday night.

San Jose scored three goals in quick succession, sending Miikka Kiprusoff off to the bench (apparently under protest) and shocking the Calgary crowd into a shell of silence as they tried to comprehend where their Flames had suddenly gone hiding.

It took a crushing hit from defenceman Cory Sarich on Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau to get the Flames back into the series both physically and offensively, the hit, left Marleau with a bloodied nose and the Sharks down a man due to the eventual scrum that comes with crushing a captain.

Calgary made the best of the advantage when their captain, Jarome Iginla put away the Flames first goal of the night and began the come back process.

From there Curtis Joseph took over the show a bit, shutting out the Sharks for the duration of his 56 minute appearance, frustrating them through the second and third periods when the Flames finally began to chip away at the lead and then take it away late in the game.

The appearance of Cujo at the key juncture of the game, was exactly the reason that the Flames sought his services out after the World Championships this year. His experience and stability proved to be just the qualities that Calgary needed for game three, as the Flames gained confidence back as the San Jose shots were deflected away from the net.

While Joseph had one of those career type nights, it’s still expected that Kiprusoff will return to the nets for game four, though with Mike Keenan one can never really be sure of anything we guess.

On Sunday however, Keenan made the right call, eager to shift the focus of the San Jose attack away from goaltending, his insertion of Joseph seemed to be the wake up call that his shocked squad needed at that time.

From there the leadership of the Flames took over, with Nolan in particular providing some of the long sought after tempo of consistency in the game, picking up two assists and his winning goal on the night. His play was instrumental in providing a spark that may now push the Flames forward in the Western Conference series.

The Sharks on the other hand had no idea what hit them (literally) , no doubt thinking that they were well on their way to taking charge of the series in the first three minutes, they now will have to relive the many past collapses of their playoff history. Sunday’s perhaps the most traumatic one over the last few years, such was the nature of their decline after the Sarich hit.

In any series there comes a time when the momentum shifts for good, it could very well be that the moment arrived with a tough nosed check and remarkable come back.

Calgary Herald-- Nolan bites Sharks
Calgary Sun-- Flames owin' Nolan
Globe and Mail-- Sarich makes an impact
San Jose Mercury News-- Sharks suffer crushing Game 3 loss
San Jose Mercury News-- Night of infamy for Sharks
. Stats Pack

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