Clinch's certainly no cinc

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:42 PM ET

 The citizens of Calgary -- not just the Flames -- can sense it's in their grasp.

 Hockey's ultimate prize is one win away. Everyone believes the Stanley Cup is right there for the taking.

  And now, with fingers nearly wrapped around it, no one donning the Flaming C wants to see it escape their grip.

 "If we didn't win the Stanley Cup, we would be very disappointed," said defenceman Andrew Ference.

 "We wouldn't say that at the start of the season.

 "We wouldn't say that in Round One but we put ourselves in this position and we won't be happy without winning it all."

 Leading the best-of-seven series by a 3-2 margin, the Flames have the golden chance nobody believed possible months ago. A victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at the Saddledome (6 p.m., CBC) will complete the dream.

 However, the key, they all say, is to not think about it that way. Not become too excited at the thought they could be champions.

 Chris Clark may be the least excited person in the city.

 "I'll be one of the most excited guys if and when it goes our way," he replied.

 "There's an end of the road coming. We know maybe when it could be and you do what it takes because you have three months to rest up.

 "But it won't be exciting if we don't win so I'm gonna wait until we win it to be excited."

 The even-keel approach is expected, even if the butterflies are fluttering inside.

 "I don't think our guys get too big on themselves," said GM-head coach Darryl Sutter.

 "We saw that right away after Game 4. The only thing I saw was, for the first time, how frustrated they were because they thought they played well and got a little of the short end.

 "That's the only time I have seen anything in the whole playoffs that has demonstrated any sort of not being totally focused.

 "I don't even look at it like it's that big a deal. It's like we were preparing for Game 6 against Vancouver (but lost) and then had to go get ready for Game 7."

 Which, to a man, the Flames don't want this time around.

 A seventh and deciding game would mean a trip across the continent into a building that will overflow with more than 22,000 wired Lightning supporters.

 Similar fears helped them clinch series in the Saddledome against both Detroit and San Jose.

 "We don't want to go back there for a Game 7. Don't want to make that trip again," Clark said. "You don't want to go to a Game 7 because you give up that lead. It can go either way and it's an all-out battle, so we definitely want to clinch it here."

 Rest assured, the Lightning won't roll over and die.

 The Eastern Conference champs didn't get to this point without finding that something extra when the going got tough.

 They're still the talented squad that ran over their opposition to reach this final.

 The Flames are certain they'll see the best Tampa Bay has to offer.

 "They want it just as much," Clark said. "This is such a big opportunity for all of us on both teams. I don't think they want it any less than we do."


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