Game Five is on Sunday and it just might become the stranglehold the Ducks have been threatening since Game One of the series after beating Calgary Flames with a 4-2 win on Friday. Now down 3-1, the Flames are fighting for their playoff lives, as the Ducks will try to close out the series Sunday night.
Friday’s loss was tough: Duck’s Matt Beleskey’s power-play goal in the third period was the winning goal even though Patrick Maroon added an empty-net goal to secure the win. Jacob Silfverberg had a goal and an assist and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Anaheim. Their goaltender Frederik Andersen made 25 saves for the win.
Flames’ Sean Monahan and Michael Ferland replied in scoring, who suffered their first loss at home this post-season. Calgary’s Karri Ramo stopped 25-of-28 shots in the loss but it wasn’t enough. The Honda Center, historically is a tough building to play in for the Flames. They have just one win there – a single playoff victory in 2006 – in the last 11 years. Those stats are staggering and look unlikely to change.
“It makes sense that if we go home 3-1, we’re in a better position than they are,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau prior to the game. “Two-two, they’ve got momentum coming into our building, so we’d much prefer the 3-1.”
Well they got it, against a team who in only their second year of a rebuild made oddsmakers look foolish this season. The Flames feel there’s another rabbit or two to pull out of their hats. “With a team like this, anything is possible I feel like,” Flames’ forward Johnny Gaudreau told media. “We’ve been down in games before. I feel like this is the perfect scenario for us.”
“My message is ‘shock the hockey world,”‘ Calgary Coach Bob Hartley said Saturday before the team’s departure for California. “Obviously we’re at the edge of the cliff right now. We want to keep going. This has been a great season for us.”
Game 6, if it’s necessary, will back in Calgary on Tuesday. A Game 7 would be Thursday in Anaheim, Calgary fans can only hope.
“We’re not out of it yet.” – Flames’ Joe Colborne
“We know if we can get in there and get a win tomorrow, then we’re coming back here,” Calgary defenceman Dennis Wideman said. “If we can get a win there, it will be a different series.” A different series indeed, since Calgary hasn’t won a regular-season game there since 2004. They’ve won a lone playoff game in Anaheim in 2006.
The devil i in the details for the Flames, “It’s the smallest things right now,” Wideman said. “Probably five-on-five, it was our best game of the series. Funny how it works sometimes, you play your best game and don’t get the result that you want.
“I think if we keep playing that way five-on-five, keep playing that forecheck game and keep coming at them, I think we’ll have a chance to win.”
That chance is quite slim, and odds predictators just might get their chance to get some vindication. As there is “zero” margin for error on Sunday against the heavier, more experienced Ducks.
“Last night, they made us pay on basically every mistake that we made,” coach Hartley said. “We didn’t make many mistakes, but they made us pay and that’s what good teams do. You can tell that they’ve been there. “They’re talented and experienced. They know where to push and they know where to slow down. That’s what we’re learning right now. It’s all about a learning process for us, but we want to keep winning at the same time.”
Flames’ centerman, Joe Colborne reassured local media post-game: “We’re not out of it yet. We’re going to rebound and come back and have our best game of year in Game 5.”
Well they’ve left themselves no other choice if they want to live another day.