Shift for the ages

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:59 PM ET


 TAMPA -- On the final shift of the game, Jarome Iginla lost his helmet but he never lost his head.

 That's not to say his heart wasn't racing faster than Smarty Jones as he helped set up the game-winner and then digested a 3-2 overtime triumph that puts his Flames in position to fulfil every Canadian boy's dream with a Stanley Cup win in Calgary tomorrow night.

 "It's one win away but there's so much work to be done and we're not going to get ahead of ourselves," said Iginla, beaming.

 "We're going to enjoy this win for a half hour."

 The rest of the city is excused for enjoying it just a smidge longer than that.

 Oleg Saprykin played the hero 14:40 into overtime, banging in a rebound off Iginla's sixth shot of the night. But it was Iginla who further cemented his claim to the Conn Smythe trophy with a goal, an assist and a seemingly endless final shift for the ages.

 In four Game 5 wins on the road this spring, Iginla has scored two game-winners and assisted on the other two.

 "As long as he was fresh, he went out," said Sutter of his captain -- his hero -- who was double- and triple-shifted all night.

 "He found his second gear in overtime. That's again something that comes from way down inside there somewhere."

 Losing his helmet while firing his first shot at the net, Iginla later tried a wraparound and various other attempts to end a game the Flames lost control of early in the third.

 He was knocked down, he got back up, he was hog-tied and then, thanks to some great work by Marcus Nilson as well, suddenly it was in the net as Saprykin jammed home a rebound that sent Calgarians -- Canadians -- into a frenzy.

 Minutes after the game, Iginla, Saprykin and surprise starter Toni Lydman emerged from the dressing room to make a long walk to the podium, during which the captain took a quiet moment to put his arm around Saprykin's neck.

 "You worked so hard out there -- you deserve it," he said.

 Fact is, he's right.

 Having fired six shots on goal himself, making several big hits and adding energy to a club without Ville Nieminen, Saprykin was the leading candidate for the green hard hat until he ruined the unsung hero award by scoring.

 "It's a great feeling," said Saprykin, a man of few words.

 "The guys battled so hard and every guy deserves this."

 The Flames indeed deserved the win but a third-period collapse opened the door for the club to squander its second-straight dominating effort.

 Playing on their heels through the third period as Miikka Kiprusoff kept the game alive with another brilliant bounce-back win, the Flames looked like several records were to fall.

 Instead, they're now 13-1 when scoring first, 11-0 when leading after two, 4-0 in Game 5's and 5-1 in overtime.

 "This is probably one of the most exciting days right now," said Iginla, the first star in an incredible game that was far from the street fight Tampa fans and media predicted.

 "It just seems that each game is getting more exciting to be in."

 Just wait until tomorrow, Jarome.

 Calgarians can't.

 "When Martin Cibak, Chris Dingman and Ben Clymer are your best players, you aren't going to win," said Lightning coach John Tortorella, who was asked if he expects his team will be back here Monday.

 He made a bold declaration.

 "Yes, we will."

 Even if it is to clean out their lockers.


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