Best-of-three for fourth time

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:51 PM ET


 In the Calgary Flames' post-season chase for the Stanley Cup, the golden rule has been expect the unexpected.

 Except for one thing: Game 5.

 Each round, the script heading into the swing game has been the same.

 The series is tied 2-2 and the Flames are a long way from their friendly confines.

 Funny how that's a comfort for a club going up against the Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the best-of-seven final, which continues tomorrow night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

 Moments after dropping Monday night's

 1-0 clash at the Saddledome, that's what they were thinking.

 "It would have been nice to win last game but it's over now," said right-winger Shean Donovan. "It's three games and the first to take two wins the Stanley Cup and we know we have to steal one in their barn to do it.

 "It'll take our best effort but we've seen that when our backs are against the wall, we play our best hockey."

 Certainly, that was the case the first three times they've faced this test.

 - April 15 in Vancouver -- A textbook Flames win, a 2-1 Kipper special.

 - May 1 in Detroit -- A 1-0 win over the Red Wings.

 - May 17 in San Jose -- A surprising 3-0 victory over the Sharks.

 The self-professed underdogs are hoping to keep that streak alive.

 "We take a lot out of the past, all the good things. We believe in our room," said captain Jarome Iginla. "That was a tough loss to take, every loss in the playoffs is very hard, but we know we have more in this room.

 "It wasn't like we were totally outplayed. We just have to find a way to win next game."

 Past history has proven the importance of doing just that. In the 18 Stanley Cup finals that were tied at two wins apiece, the winner of Game 5 has won 14, or 78%, of them.

 The exact numbers aren't important to the Flames or the Lightning, a club that's won both Game 5s it's faced this post-season.

 "Guys know the percentage of teams that win the series after winning Game 5 is pretty huge," Donovan said. "It's a big turning point and a chance to gain big momentum."

 The big issue is how to do just that.

 The obvious is to score first, which the victor of each game has done. Another is to keep Lightning star Brad Richards off the scoresheet, since Tampa is 8-0 when the pride of P.E.I. has tallied. The Flames are determined to skate and hit each and every Lightning skater at every turn.

 "It's gotten us this far this year," Iginla said. "If we looked at our whole game (Monday), in the second period we had our chances. The third period wasn't great and the first period wasn't great. The team that's won each game has been the team that's been more desperate. We've got to find a way to be that team."


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