Lightning air tight

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET


 The Tampa Bay Lightning put up a wall last night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final.

 And it was more than simply the 'Bulin Wall.

 Although goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin did collect his fifth shutout of the playoffs in last night's 1-0 win, credit the stack of bodies in front of him for helping shut down the Calgary Flames' shooters.

 The Flames certainly did, giving the Lightning praise for getting down often to block shots and help their Russian goaltender keep the Flames off the scoreboard and tie up the best-of-seven series at two wins apiece.

 "Too much traffic," said Flames winger Chris Clark. "They got three guys in front of their net. We gotta look for spots around them or through them. It's very hard to do.

 "Their 'D' and their forwards have been blocking a lot of shots and we've been trying to get it around them. I think we did it a little bit this game but we need to do it more."

 With the Lightning going down to block most shots, the Flames fired plenty of pucks high and wide during Game 4. But in trying to pick corners, they whistled 14 shots off-target and generated little in the way of rebounds because of it.

 When they did get second chances, the Lightning defencemen did their job keeping the front of the net clean for Khabibulin to jump on loose pucks or clearing the puck themselves.

 In all, Khabibulin made 29 saves for his 14th win of the post-season.

 "We should have found a way to score," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, himself knocking a shot off the post in the second period. "Both teams created a few chances but there could been a lot more both ways."

 Echoed Flames defenceman Rhett Warrener: "We didn't score and you have to give them credit. They battled and worked and Khabibulin made some saves."

 Yet it wasn't vintage Khabibulin.

 At least not for the first 40 minutes when he looked rather shaky. He was rarely tested and had trouble with long shots, including having a slow-rolling puck trickle through his legs and wide of the post in the first period.

 But in the final frame, the Lightning goalie turned away 12 shots, including a few glorious chances which finally found the target.

 In one flurry, he was forced to make a quick right-leg save when teammate Brad Richards nearly knocked a centring feed past him and later he stopped Andrew Ference cruising in on the backhand. Khabibulin again robbed Ference in the dying minutes with a fantastic glove grab off a hard point blast.

 "I think it was more us and not him," Clark said. "Our chances, we didn't capitalize on. We missed the net on some.

 "Hey ... second period, we had great chances and missed the net," agreed Flames GM-head coach Darryl Sutter.

 "You have got to bear down on the opportunities that present themselves against two teams that aren't going to give you many chances."


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