2008 Playoffs: Round 1, Day 5
Calgary's incredible comeback
Starting goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff had been given the hook by coach Mike Keenan; and the usually unflappable Finn showed his unhappiness, throwing his stick and then kicking at it as he stormed into the dressing room. Curtis Joseph came on in relief and the Flames had roughly 56-plus minutes to regroup from an unimaginably poor start.What a bizarre game, from the Sharks' lightning-quick start — three goals in 2:02 is far from a postseason record, by the way — to Cujo spelling Kiprusoff only three and a half minutes in, to the way the Flames just kept chipping away at the San Jose lead.
Miraculously, it turned out to be enough.
The Flames roared back to score four unanswered goals to defeat the Sharks 4-3 Sunday night and take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final.
There was something about the game that was so reminiscent of the Sharks' other recent playoff meltdowns, a sense of inevitability. The game reminded me of the Oilers taking out San Jose in 2006 after falling behind, with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau fading away as the minutes got more and more difficult.
Dion Phaneuf was on the ice for all three early goals against, but made amends with two great plays that gave Calgary its first and third goals. And how about Owen Nolan, who picked up the winning goal and two assists, playing 17:32 and being on the ice for all four Flames goals?
Brian Campbell and Doug Murray were out there for three of the four Flames goals against, including Nolan's winner.
San Jose's in trouble. They're going to need to come out and win Tuesday on the road in a hostile environment, or go down 3-1 heading to California. (That said, they've been the league's best road team all season, as this was just their 11 regulation loss on the road in 42 games.)
Ron Wilson has shortened his bench considerably, hardly playing his fourth liners and giving his lower-pairing defenders scant minutes. Kyle McLaren, for one, has gone from 18:22 during the season to just 13 minutes last night, and Matt Carle played just 12:40.
Youngsters Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski, meanwhile, both played about 21 minutes after averaging 14 during the season, and even Marleau and Thornton played three more minutes than the norm.
It's a strategy that hasn't paid off so far.
For Calgary, signing Cujo late in the year has.
And the crowd goes wild [The Battle of Alberta]