PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference semifinals; Flames lead 2-1.
Doing it on the road could be impossible.
Faced with the possibility of falling into a 3-1 hole, the top-seeded Red Wings will try to keep Iginla in check and pull even with the Calgary Flames when the teams meet in Game 4.
Though the Red Wings kept Iginla off the scoresheet in the first two games, the Flames managed a split in Detroit and seized on an opportunity to take control of the series in Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Both goaltenders were perfect in the first 20 minutes before the teams broke out for five goals in the second period.
Iginla scored his first goal of this series and his team-leading sixth of the playoffs on the power play at 5:46 to give Calgary a 2-1 lead. Jiri Fischer’s first goal of the postseason with 8:16 left in the period forged a 2-2 tie, but Shean Donovan put the Flames ahead for good just 40 seconds later.
Detroit pressed for the tying goal in the third, only to be denied repeatedly by Miikka Kiprusoff, who rebounded with a 27-save performance after allowing five goals in Game 2.
Kiprusoff displayed the ability to bounce back from bad games during the regular season, and that trend has continued in the playoffs. He has given up five goals three times in losses during this postseason, and each time won the next game, yielding a total of five goals.
The sixth-seeded Flames can move within one win of their first conference finals appearance since capturing the Stanley Cup in 1989 with a victory Thursday.
“I think our line created more chances,” said Iginla, a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. “I thought we were skating a little bit better. We were trying to concentrate as a group and a line. We had more chances and hopefully we can create more the next game.”
Though Iginla has only one point in this series, his presence forces the Red Wings to focus most of their attention on him, opening space for players like Donovan and Martin Gelinas, who had two assists in Game 3.
During home games, Detroit has the last change and can match its Grind Line of Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper and either Darren McCarty or Steve Yzerman against Iginla. In Game 3, however, the Flames had the last change and Iginla often played against Robert Lang’s line with Brendan Shanahan, who has difficulty skating with Iginla, and Ray Whitney, no match physically for Calgary’s captain.
“Every team would like to have last change,” Iginla said. “It helps us as far as getting matchups, line matchups. And that leads to us starting with the puck more.”
Also working in Calgary’s favor in Game 3 was the absence of Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios, who was scratched after sustaining an undisclosed injury in Game 2. Detroit used Chelios and Derian Hatcher to play against Iginla in Games 1 and 2.
Iginla had three shots on goal Tuesday after registering two in the first two games.
“It felt good,” Iginla said. “It would have been nice to see one go in early, but it all worked out. I was really trying to skate. They’re great at clogging up the neutral zone and clogging up the wings, and I really was trying to concentrate just on skating and not over-thinking.”
Iginla’s goal snapped the Flames’ 0-for-12 power-play drought in this series, and was just their seventh goal with the man advantage in 52 chances in the playoffs.
The Red Wings, the NHL leaders this season with 109 points, have lost three of four road games in the playoffs.
“They kept throwing a lot of things at us, especially down low,” McCarty said. “We didn’t play the game we wanted to play. It’s imperative we win the next one. We have to play more desperate.”
While Detroit played without Chelios, Calgary’s injury problems are much worse. The Flames were without regular defensemen Toni Lydman, Denis Gauthier and Rhett Warrener and forward Chris Simon in Game 3.
Lydman and Gauthier have yet to play in this series due to injuries, and Warrener sat out after he was hit in the eye and across the bridge of the nose by Yzerman’s stick in Game 2.
Brennan Evans made his NHL debut in place of Warrener, but saw only 32 seconds of ice time in the first period as the Flames went with five defensemen over the final 40 minutes.
Simon had two goals and three points in the first three games against Vancouver in the first round, but has missed the past seven games with a lower body injury.
The series returns to Detroit for Game 5 on Saturday afternoon.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Lang, 4 goals and 8 points; Pavel Datsyuk, 6 assists; Shanahan, 18 PIM. Flames - Iginla, 6 goals and 9 points; Craig Conroy and Matthew Lombardi, 5 assists; Iginla and Ville Nieminen, 14 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Red Wings - Power play: 11.6 percent (5 for 43). Penalty killing: 95.1 percent (39 for 41). Flames - Power play: 13.5 percent (7 for 52). Penalty killing: 79.2 percent (42 for 53).