Hitmen start the rally

SCOTT FISHER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

Looks like we've got ourselves a series.

The Calgary Hitmen returned home after back-to-back losses in Medicine Hat knowing Game 3 held the key to their entire season.

They received a strong effort from top to bottom in a crucial 4-2 victory over the Tigers last night at the 'Dome.

Brett Sonne, Robin Figren, Derek LeBlanc and Alex Plante scored for the Hitmen, who still trail the Eastern Conference Final 2-1.

Game 4 goes tomorrow night at the 'Dome (7 p.m., Shaw TV, The Fan 960).

Figren, who has played his best hockey in recent weeks, said his team knew the chances of overcoming a 3-0 deficit against the Tigers were minimal.

"It's way harder to come back from 3-0 than 2-1," Figren said. "We were pumped before the game and we have a good feeling in the room.

"This is going to be a good series."

Gord Baldwin, with a bizarre goal at the end of the second period, and Derek Dorsett scored for the visitors.

Dan Spence made 24 saves for his first win of the series and ninth of the playoffs.

"It was a huge game in the series and we were able to pull it off," Spence said. "It feels good."

Matt Keetley made 19 stops for the Tigers, who came up empty on six powerplays.

The Hitmen connected on two of seven man-advantage opportunities, including Plante's third-period clincher.

The Hitmen powerplay looked lethargic in the first period so GM/head coach Kelly Kisio threw his checking line on the ice with the man advantage.

The move paid off almost immediately. Sonne walked into the faceoff circle and took a wrist shot that hit the bottom of Keetley's glove and trickled into the net to give Calgary its first lead of the series.

"They got our goal last game on the powerplay," Kisio said. "I thought they were working real hard and they get their chances.

"So, you throw them out there to change things up a bit and it worked."

Kisio was pleased with his club's work ethic and its ability to avoid the penalty box much better than it did on the weekend in the Gas City.

"We won more battles," he said. "In Medicine Hat, we didn't do a good job at competing at certain times.

"But tonight, we won our fair share."

Hitmen winger Freddie Pettersson, who went into last night's game without a goal in the previous dozen games, was removed from the club's top line.

His drought hasn't been the result of poor work ethic and he had two quality chances in the opening period.

Keetley made a glove stop on the first attempt and Pettersson was chopped down in the slot before he could get a shot off a few seconds later.

Calgary scored twice in a 2:19 span late in the second to seize the all momentum.

Figren wheeled around two Tigers defenders and was behind the goal-line when he tucked the puck behind Keetley.

Calgary took a 3-0 lead with 40 seconds left in the period. The Tigers won a defensive-zone faceoff but couldn't handle the speed of Steve Covington.

The Hitmen overager stole the puck behind the net and centred to LeBlanc, who one-timed his seventh of the post-season past Keetley.

Captain Dylan Yeo nearly had another goal for Calgary, banking a shot off the end boards.

Calgary appeared poised to take its three-goal cushion to the locker-room when disaster struck.

Spence left the puck behind the net for Dan Mercer. But as the d-man started to move up ice, the puck got caught up in Spence's skates as the 'tender backed into his crease.

The puck trickled over the line with 4.6 seconds left and Baldwin was handed the easiest goal he'll ever score.


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