The Flames are an unstoppable force in the third period. In their first playoff contest since 2009, Calgary again proved its late-game dominance in a dramatic 2-1 Game 1 comeback at the Vancouver Canucks.
Kris Russell notched the game-winner with 29.6 seconds left in the third period. A team that appeared donezo when defenseman Mark Giordano went down in early March has an upper hand at the start of this all Western Canada series.
Was this the Flames simply doing their thing, or a choke job by the Canucks, who saw David Jones tie the game at 1-1 at the 7:59 mark of the third? Neither really, since it was a pretty evenly played game all the way through. And since this is a story about the Flames, we have to make mention of the fact that both teams were essentially tied at even strength puck possession according to Natural Stat Trick.
“It’s a great, great confidence we have,” said (goaltender Jonas) Hiller after the game. Calgary coach Bob Hartley, who earlier this season dubbed his squad the Cardiac Kids for their many comebacks, said: “It seems like nothing rattles us.”
And as for the Canucks, they’re yet another team left wondering, how and why they couldn’t put Calgary away.
From the Vancouver Sun:
“We gave them a few chances in the third, which were our mistakes, and we can’t do that,” (Daniel) Sedin said. “I thought we played well for 50 minutes, and even at the end, too. But it’s just those few mistakes.
“We would have liked to score some more. But if we’re up 1-0, we should be able to get away with a win. That’s the bottom line. I thought we played a pretty good game actually. But those last 10 minutes, we didn’t do a good enough job back-checking or getting back.”
If you’re the Canucks, do you go to Ryan Miller for Game 2, or stick with Eddie Lack who stopped 28 of 30 Flames shots on goal? Miller has started once since a knee injury Feb. 22. Lack led the way for Vancouver into the playoffs. Miller was the starter for most of the year, and Lack the backup.
Either way, this is what the Flames do. Vancouver knows it needs to be more aware for the next game. Then again, every team knows this about the Flames. Calgary’s 99 third period goals led the Western Conference. They’re a comeback machine. No matter how mediocre their advanced stats always look they just find a way.
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