Take the Calgary Flames out of the Saddledome, and they become fish out of water.
Playing at home, though, things tend to go swimmingly for this puzzling team. Last night, for instance, the Flames turned in a solid performance to edge the Detroit Red Wings 3-2, tying their playoff series at 2-2. It was the second consecutive impressive effort in the post-season for the Flames and they now have recorded an NHL-high 32 victories at home, including 30 in the regular season.
Now comes the hard part.
Tomorrow, the Flames must return to Detroit, where they were baited, hooked and cooked in the series’ first two games.
“Obviously, we have to win in Detroit,” said the Flames’ Daymond Langkow, who scored two goals last night. “We have to play the same way there that we did here.”
Easier said than done for this team, evidently.
“It’s a brand new series now,” Langkow said. “It’s a best-of-three series now. We can win this.”
Not if they don’t win at least one game in Detroit.
For some reason, the Flames became flustered and undisciplined in Detroit during the series’ first two games and were slapped with more than their fair share of penalties.
Last night, however, it was pretty well the other way around, with the Wings coming apart and not even directing a shot on net in the game’s first 10 minutes.
• Hockey night in Canada produced a mere nine goals in the three playoff games in this country last night, and so whatever happened to the so-called new NHL, with all the wide-open play?
There were only three goals in Ottawa — all three by the Senators’ in their series-ending victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And there was only the one overtime goal in Vancouver. And, yet, it would not be exaggeration to suggest that the Canucks and Dallas Stars provided the most offence of any of the three games in Canada last night.
There were plenty of shots creative plays during this game, but the goaltenders’ battle was one of the most remarkable in years. Both Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and the Stars’ Marty Turco were sensational until the Stars finally came out with their 1-0 victory.
• Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, incidentally, said his team played its strongest all-round playoff series in the Senators' history.
The Sens combined excellent goaltending from Ray Emery, tenacious defence and just enough offensive production to eliminate the Pens.
And now comes the obvious question for the Sens, generally perceived as chokers:
Can they continue to play the same way in the playoffs?