PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinal; series tied 1-1.
A dismal performance by their penalty killers couldn’t prevent the Calgary Flames from gaining a split on the road in their first two playoff games in eight years.
Improved play from their special teams likely will be required if the Flames are to win a postseason series for the first time in 15 years.
Calgary looks to maintain the home-ice advantage when its quarterfinal series against the Vancouver Canucks shifts to the Pengrowth Saddledome for Game 3.
Undisciplined play by the Flames in Game 1 of this series helped the Canucks score four power-play goals en route to a 5-3 victory Wednesday.
Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff also wasn’t at his best, allowing five goals on 22 shots. Kiprsuoff, who set a modern-day NHL record with a 1.69 goals-against average this season, surrendered more than two goals for just the seventh time in 39 games.
“After nights like that I try to learn what I should do different,” Kiprusoff said after picking up his second win—and first in three years—in six career playoff games. “I didn’t do a great job last game, so I was really more active looking for the puck and I did a better job.”
Though Calgary is satisfied to leave Vancouver with the series tied, it can’t be happy having allowed five power-play goals on 11 chances in the first two games. The Canucks, meanwhile, have to be concerned that they have yet to score an even-strength goal in this series.
Captain Markus Naslund’s goal in the second period of Game 2 came on the power play.
“We did create quite a few chances but we still can’t let them get the two-goal lead,” Naslund said. “That plays right into their hands. They are good defensively and they want to play with the lead so we have to learn from that. It’s just one game, though. We can bounce back.”
By gaining a split of the first two games, the Flames have seized the home-ice advantage. That shouldn’t be much of a concern to the Canucks, who are 7-0-2 in their last nine visits to Calgary.
“We’ve played pretty well there,” center Brendan Morrison said. “It’s a completely new season so to speak now. We know we can play better. We’ll be better in Game 3.”
Kiprusoff and Iginla clearly are the two biggest reasons why the Flames are making their first postseason appearance since 1995-96. Both will need to be at their best if sixth-seeded Calgary is going to upset third-seeded Vancouver.
Flames coach Darryl Sutter was pleased with Iginla’s play in Game 2 after he felt his captain played on the perimeter too much in the series opener.
“I thought he played with some emotion,” Sutter said. “That’s what playoffs are about, you have to have emotional leaders.”
Iginla’s goal Friday was his first in the postseason since scoring as a rookie eight years ago.
“It was a great feeling just to be able to get an early goal, and to see that second one go in was a huge momentum swing and it got our feet under us, Iginla said. “We didn’t feel we played great the first game and this game we came out and had a good start and were able to hold the lead.”
The Flames haven’t won a playoff series since capturing the Stanley Cup in 1989, while the Canucks are hoping to advance to the conference semifinals for the second consecutive season.
Game 4 is Tuesday at Calgary.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Canucks - 101 points; 3rd seed. Flames - 94 points; 6th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - six tied with 1 goal; Naslund, 3 assists and 4 points; Marek Malik and Mattias Ohlund, 6 PIM. Flames - five tied with 1 goal; Leopold, 3 assists and 3 points; Ville Nieminen, 8 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Canucks - Power play: 45.5 percent (5 for 11). Penalty killing: 86.7 percent (13 for 15). Flames - Power play: 13.3 percent (2 for 15). Penalty killing: 54.5 percent (6 for 11).