Persistent Flames down Canucks 4-2, lead series 2-1

 

 
 
 
 
T.J. Brodie #7 (L) of the Calgary Flames celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks.
 
 

T.J. Brodie #7 (L) of the Calgary Flames celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks.

Photograph by: Derek Leung, Getty Images

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CALGARY — The most truculent person in the Calgary Flames’ organization is president Brian Burke. Winger Michael Ferland is a close second.

But the Flames are not supposed to be a team that intimidates, that wins on physicality. Calgary’s fast, physical forecheck caused Vancouver Canuck players to miss the puck or give it away Sunday, leading to the first three Flames’ goals in a 4-2 victory that broke a 1-1 tie in the teams’ National Hockey League playoff series.

It’s not Calgary scorers Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler who are winning this series, but role players like Ferland and Joe Colborne, Brandon Bollig and David Jones, even 18-year-old Sam Bennett.

“Their forecheck is big,” Canuck defenceman Luca Sbisa said after the game as blood trickled from a gash across his nose. “They’re doing a good job of it. They’re putting pucks deep and finishing their checks and they don’t give you much time. You’re under a lot of pressure and they don’t give you many options. We have to do a better job.”

“They came hard at us,” Canuck captain Henrik Sedin said. “And if you’re not quick back ... and the Ds are a little slow as well, it’s tough to make those plays. It’s something we used against them in our building when we came out hard and created a lot of turnovers that way. We have to look at that and make some adjustments.

“It’s not so much the physical aspect. I think it’s more about us coming back and making plays. If we can make one or two plays to give our D some options, they’re not going to keep doing that or they’ll get burned.”

But it was the Canucks who were scorched by the Flames’ pressure on Sunday.

A heavy hit by Colborne on defenceman Dan Hamhuis preceded Bennett’s scrambly goal that made it 3-1 and essentially clinched it for the Flames at 2:14 of the third period. Bennett bolted into the Vancouver crease to knock a loose puck past goalie Eddie Lack.

Calgary added another during a 5-on-3 power play at 14:36 when Vancouver penalty-killers looked confused and Monahan easily converted Johnny Gaudreau’s pass into the slot. Canuck Jannik Hansen scored a late goal in garbage time.

It was far less consequential than the instigator penalty first-line winger Alex Burrows took for starting a fight with Flame defenceman Kris Russell with 1:25 remaining.

That penalty at that stage of the game carries an automatic one-game suspension, although the NHL rescinded a similar penalty on Friday to Calgary’s Deryk Engelland.

After the Canucks’ 4-1 win in Game 2 ended with a line brawl and a slew of game misconducts, Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa quipped: “Hopefully we’ll see Mason Raymond next game.” Well, the Canucks did. And at 6:35 of the first period, with Bieksa on the ice after a turnover by Sbisa, Raymond assisted on Brandon Bollig’s goal that made it 1-0 for the Flames.

Sbisa said his turnover was a matter of a bad bounce and not an incoming forechecker.

Another unlikely scorer, Shawn Matthias, tied it 1-1 at 9:09 by kicking the puck to his stick and shooting while being checked as Calgary goalie Jonas Hiller made snow angels after a strong back-post save on Radim Vrbata. It was Matthias’ first-ever playoff goal, and just his second in 15 games in the last month.

But Calgary’s forecheck produced the go-ahead goal at 15:02 when Vrbata, possibly shaken up by a collision away from the play that the Canucks thought was interference, turned the puck over once in the defensive zone, then whiffed on it entirely as he was hit. That left the puck for TJ Brodie to fire through a screen and past Lack from 60 feet.

It was the third time in five Calgary goals in the series that Lack was beaten from the point.

“There’s going to be momentum swings through the series,” Canuck winger Derek Dorsett said. “We’ve just got to make sure we stay positive and try to swing the momentum at the start of Game 4. We forechecked them pretty hard in Game 2 and we knew they were going to be excited and come hard on the forecheck in Calgary. They did that and we just couldn’t find a way to get by it.

“We knew this was going to be a tough series and we knew this was going to be a long series.”

How the Canucks cope with the Flames’ tough forecheck may determine if it’s really a long a series.

Game 4 is Tuesday. The Canucks should plan accordingly.

GAME ESSENTIALS

THE SKINNY

The Flames led 2-1 after the first as Brandon Bollig and TJ Brodie sandwiched a Shawn Matthias goal. The second period was scoreless and then Flame rookie Sam Bennet stuck the dagger in with his career first playoff goal at 2:14 of the third. Sean Monahan added a 5-on-3 power-play goal with 5:24 left. Jannik Hansen completed the scoring in garbage time. Flames outshot the Canucks 27-25.

PIVOTAL POINT

With the Canucks trailing by one goal heading into the third and looking to tie, they were hemmed in their zone by Calgary’s second line of Mikael Backlund, Joe Colborne and Sam Bennett. The Canuck defensive pairing of Hamhuis and Weber, along with forwards Matthias, Horvat and Hansen couldn’t get a clear and Bennett eventually scored in a goalmouth scramble, putting the game beyond Vancouver’s reach.

BY THE NUMBERS

The goal by Shawn Matthias was his first in 10 career playoff games and just his second playoff point … The Canucks directed 65 shots at the Calgary net but only 25 reached goalie Jonas Hiller. Another 30 were blocked and 10 missed … Kris Russell and TJ Brodie blocked six shots apiece for the Flames … Alex Burrows had six of the Canucks 25 shots. Daniel Sedin had none.

HIT PARADE

The Flames outhit the Canucks by a 14-7 margin in the first period. The second period was more of the same as the Flames out-bashed the Canucks 12-6. The final count was 33-18 for the Flames, led by Michael Ferland, with nine. Joe Colborne had five and David Jones added four. Luca Sbisa and Bo Horvat had three hits apiece to lead the Canucks.

IN THE CIRCLE

For the second straight game, the teams finished even in the faceoff dot, this time 31-31. Henrik Sedin, who had been excellent the first two games (25-for-34), was a dismal 7-for-21 on Sunday. Nick Bonino led the Canuck centremen at 12-for-18, while Bo Horvat was 7-for-9. Brad Richardson struggled, going just 3-for-9. Matt Stajan topped the Flames at 12-for-17. Sean Monahan went 10-for-23.

Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun

 
 
 
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T.J. Brodie #7 (L) of the Calgary Flames celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks.
 

T.J. Brodie #7 (L) of the Calgary Flames celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks.

Photograph by: Derek Leung, Getty Images

 
T.J. Brodie #7 (L) of the Calgary Flames celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks.
Shawn Matthias #27 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring against the Calgary Flames.
Vancouver Canucks’ Chris Tanev, right, checks Calgary Flames Michael Ferland.
Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames skates against Alexander Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Mikael Backlund #11 of the Calgary Flames tries to check Nick Bonino #13 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks Luca Sbisa, left, of Switzerland, is checked into the boards by Calgary Flames Michael Ferland.
Josh Jooris #86 of the Calgary Flames celebrates the goal of his teammate Brandon Bollig (not pictured) against the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack, left, from Sweden, looks on as the puck hits the net on a shot from Calgary Flames David Jones.
Vancouver Canucks Christopher Tanev, left, checks Calgary Flames Sean Monahan, centre, as goalie Eddie Lack, from Sweden, grabs the puck.
Vancouver Canucks fans sit among Calgary Flames fans during first period NHL first round playoff action in Calgary.
Dennis Wideman #6 of the Calgary Flames chases the puck against Derek Dorsett #51 of the Vancouver Canucks.
T.J. Brodie #7 of the Calgary Flames battles Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Josh Jooris #86 of the Calgary Flames celebrates the goal of his teammate Brandon Bollig (not pictured) against the Vancouver Canucks.
Mason Raymond #21 of the Calgary Flames hip checks Alexander Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack, from Sweden, lets in a goal from the Calgary Flames.
Eddie Lack #31 of the Vancouver Canucks looks up at the scoreboard to watch the replay after letting in a goal against the Calgary Flames.
Jannik Hansen #36 of the Vancouver Canucks makes a pass as T.J. Brodie #7 of the Calgary Flames tries to block.
Jonas Hiller #1 of the Calgary Flames stops the shot of Derek Dorsett #51 of the Vancouver Canucks.
David Jones #19 of the Calgary Flames mixes it up with Alex Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks’ Alex Burrows, centre, tries to get the puck past Calgary Flames goalie Jonas Hiller.
Daniel Sedin #22 (L) and Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks confer during a stoppage in play against the Calgary Flames.
Jonas Hiller #1 of the Calgary Flames stops the shot of Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Kris Russell #4 of the Calgary Flames tries to check Luca Sbisa #5 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Josh Jooris #86 of the Calgary Flames mixes it up with Brad Richardson #15 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Jonas Hiller #1 of the Calgary Flames stops the shot of Alex Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Jonas Hiller #1 of the Calgary Flames stops the shot of Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Calgary Flames defenceman Kris Russell stepped up to take on Vancouver Canucks right winger Alexandre Burrows.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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