SUN Hockey Pool

Fight to the finish

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- It was a playoff preview, after all. Complete with a hint of post-season nastiness.

Last night's Calgary Flames encounter with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks started as a no-hit affair -- but it soon became evident the teams had learned they'd be combatants when the post-season begins Friday at the Saddledome.

The Flames-Ducks matchup was clinched during the first intermission when Colorado lost in Edmonton, thus ensuring the Ducks would hold the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

The intensity level for the ensuing 40 minutes was ratcheted up.

"Playoff hockey," said Flames rearguard Robyn Regehr. "It was just intensity by both sides. We've got to do a better job of being more disciplined but both teams were just battling hard."

The second period alone featured 16 minor penalties, a few of which were roughing and slashing infractions, as well as scrums and face washes.

And the third period featured fights between Calgary's Bryan Marchment and Travis Moen, Regehr and Joe DiPenta, and a few other close calls for more fisticuffs.

"It's a little bit weird having to play them the last game of the year and then start out with them in the playoffs," said Flames forward Darren McCarty, who was a healthy scratch.

Teemu Selanne scored the winner, with Corey Perry, Chris Kunitz and Andy McDonald also tallying for for Anaheim.

Byron Ritchie, Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow replied for Calgary.

Brian Boucher, making just his third start since joining Calgary in a Feb. 1 trade, had a strong performance between the pipes, ensuring the Flames claimed the William Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals. The trophy will officially be awarded to Miikka Kiprusoff.

The best-of-seven series, which pits the Cinderella teams from the last two Stanley Cup playoffs against each other, will begin at the Saddledome Friday night, with the second clash scheduled for Sunday afternoon before heading to California.

Game times are still to be announced.

Flames winger Tony Amonte can't wait for the puck to drop.

"It's gonna be an interesting playoff," he said. "I think everybody's excited it's here finally. We get to go home and regroup and focus on our next task. I think everybody's just looking forward to it.

"Even though nothing was riding on (last night's) game, I think both teams wanted to win, go out there and play hard."

Iginla denies the teams were trying to send messages with the nasty play.

"I think it was just intensity," he said.

"It was just trying to win a game and I'm sure they feel the same way."

In the Western Conference's other series, Detroit will face Edmonton, Dallas will meet Colorado and Nashville plays San Jose.


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