Memories are made from this

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:00 PM ET


 TAMPA -- The grand old man of tonight's all-or-nothing final deserves the first word.

 It's only fair when you're talking about a 22-year NHL vet who's in his first Cup final.

 "Game sevens," stated Tampa Bay Lightning forward Dave Andreychuk, "are the games that you remember."

 Certainly everyone involved in tonight's Stanley Cup final deciding game will have a lasting memory or two.

 For some, it'll be great.

 Others won't look back on it so fondly.

 However, going into the game between Tampa Bay and the Calgary Flames, it's all about the excitement of what can be.

 The anticipation of being a champion.

 Even for a guy like Martin Gelinas, who's tasted champagne from hockey's Holy Grail.

 "We're in a pretty special place right now," said the Flames forward, who won a Cup in 1990 and twice lost in the final since then.

 "We have an opportunity to win."

 The stats are sure stacked against the Flames, who blew a golden opportunity Saturday by dropping a 3-2 double-overtime clash.

 Home teams have won 12 of the 14 previous Stanley Cup final seventh games.

 But this is a Flames squad that's already tied the NHL playoff mark with 10 road victories. The Flames have also won two of the three meetings at the St. Pete Times Forum.

 "Seems like when we get on the road, we feel good," said Gelinas, who lost a Game 7 finale with Vancouver in 1994.

 "We just get back to basics, which is chipping pucks in and working hard and going to corners and working the corners and throwing a lot of pucks on net. You could feel at home that guys were a little tense and probably overwhelmed with everything that was going on with the surroundings outside. Our heads will be clearer, our feet will be fast.

 "We'll be ready to go."

 The Flames have already gone through the jitters of having a chance to win the Cup at home and failed to succeed.

 Now they're happy to say it's the Lightning's turn to feel the same.

 "You could see the nerves and the tentativeness in our legs," Flames defenceman Andrew Ference said.

 "It is a lesson we have learned a few times but it's not one that you can just kind of snap your fingers and fix. We weren't trying to be ourselves. We were just waiting for the win kind of nervously."

 Of course, Lightning head coach John Tortorella, who repeated time and time again the Flames -- Canada's team -- were the ones under the gun before, doesn't believe there's any extra pressure on his squad.

 "I have hated opening up in a seven-game series at home but I think when you get to a Game 7, that's when it gets to be your advantage," Tortorella said.

 "Having said that, it really doesn't matter. Both teams are going to let it all hang out and, again, it comes down to making big plays."

 And who can handle the nerves, a condition that becomes even more critical with a title up for grabs in a one-game shootout.

 "That's human nature. If you are not nervous, you are not ready," Tortorella said.

 "I don't think too much has to be said.

 "I think it's a good fit the way both teams have played to have it come down to a Game 7."


Videos

Photos