Flames search for finishing touch

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:56 PM ET

CHICAGO -- Baseball season really has begun.

Calgary Flames left-winger Michael Cammalleri played the part of Yogi Berra yesterday.

Asked to sum up what his team wants to do in tonight's playoff game against the Chicago Blackhawks in comparison to the series opener, Cammalleri came up with a line old Yogi would appreciate.

"We want to start like we started and finish like we started. There's a lot of starts and finishes in there, but in the end I think we end up with more goals than they do," Cammalleri said.

Then he laughed at himself.

As hard as those words may be to follow, they make perfect sense.

The Flames controlled the first half of Thursday's game. At one point, they had a 18-5 edge in shots.

The second half, though, it fell apart, and Chicago skated to the 3-2 overtime win in the best-of-seven series.

Are Cammalleri's words easy to understand now?

"Absolutely," replied left winger Curtis Glencross. "That's the ultimate goal for every team to start like that and finish like that. That's how you win hockey games, especially in the playoffs."

As disappointing as it was for the Flames to lose a game in which they twice held the lead, it was easy to find some positives.

They instilled their gameplan against the young and exuberant Blackhawks.

They created way more shots and scoring chances.

They had control.

Now, just do it for a whole game, and it's a good bet the series will head to Calgary even.

"I think we took it to them for the first 45 minutes of the game," Glencross said.

"The only time of the game we really look back at is the last 10 minutes, we got on our heels, which happens.

"We got pucks on the net early like we wanted and traffic in front of the net. We were hard on them all night. We just go back on our heels in the third period and we can't do that. We're at our best going forward. We just have to overcome that."

Maybe a few other aspects, too. For starters, Calgary's anemic powerplay has been blanked in 11 games and on a zero-for-46 stretch.

Also, they must contain the quick and talented group of Chicago forwards, and break through the blueline corps.

Finally, they need to put more pucks past Blackhawks netminder Nikolai Khabibulin, who has an amazing record against Calgary over his career.

Not an easy task, but one the Flames said after yesterday's practice at the United Center they want to get back at.

"I think we're pretty excited," Cammalleri said.

"I heard a couple comments wishing we were playing today, so we'll be ready."

While Calgary's top line has struggled of late, the trio of Cammalleri, Todd Bertuzzi and Daymond Langkow came through very well in the opener.

Cammalleri scored to finish off a play that involved all three, and there were several other chances.

"We were pretty excited to get it going. We were put together a couple of days ago and talked about our possibilities," Cammalleri said. "We talked about being excited about the combination -- Todd's so strong with the puck and such a force, and Langks is so good in front of the net and hopefully I could get pucks on net for those guys."


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