SUN Hockey Pool

Opponents suffering 'third'-degree burns

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Wearing down opponents seems to be the Calgary Flames' specialty.

Pulling away from the Buffalo Sabres in the third period Wednesday night in a 5-2 victory at the Saddledome, the Flames proved it again.

They own the final 20 minutes. When leading after two periods, the Flames have earned a 15-0-2 record.

With the game on the line and things tied during the second intermission, they've dug deep to rack up an 11-0-2 mark.

Not to mention the three times they've come back to win when trailing after 40 minutes -- the first a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators back in October in the Music City.

"We're a confident team going into the third, and we took over the game," said Todd Bertuzzi after scoring the winner against the Sabres.

Fellow third-period hero Miikka Kiprusoff backed up Bertuzzi's thoughts.

"One big thing is confidence," said the Flames goaltender. "We've been able to do it so many times. We know if we keep pushing hard, we have a good chance to take those points."

There are reasons they're so confident.

"I think we roll three lines that can probably score," said winger Rene Bourque, who also credits their conditioning.

"I think we're in pretty good shape compared to a lot of other teams. I think the guys in this locker-room are in the best shape I've seen on an NHL team in my career, and we have the will and the hunger to go out and finish it in the third."

Rookie defenceman Adam Pardy agrees their physical fitness gives them an edge on many evenings, but Michael Cammalleri takes it a step further and points out the pounding damage they try to do to the opposition.

"We're pretty big and physical," he said, naming Bourque, Bertuzzi, Curtis Glencross, David Moss and linemate Jarome Iginla off the top of his head as guys that relentlessly pound people in search of loose pucks along the boards.

"I would think that wears on you if you're the other team," said Cammalleri. "By the time the third period comes around, maybe they're a step slower going back to get that puck."

Of course, a world-class goaltender helps.

"It's Kipper, too," added Cammalleri.

"It seems to me that he's such a competitive guy that he's gonna stay in it and battle for us. Even if maybe a goal or two go in that he didn't like early, or he's solid early, it doesn't really matter -- he shuts the door in the third."

They all talk about a quiet confidence, but the Flames locker-room between periods has rarely been silent when a game is up for grabs.

Head coach Mike Keenan is letting the players inspire each other.

"He's just letting the players have control of the locker-room. He says what needs to be said, but when we actually come in the room between periods ... guys weren't happy after that second period (Wednesday)," said Craig Conroy. "Guys were pi--ed off. There was a little bit of, not yelling, but, 'Come on, wake up. We need this game.'

"I think Mike's really let the guys take over and control this locker-room."


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