Flames finally get a special delivery

TODD SAELHOF -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:22 PM ET


 It was a powerplay that could have killed the Calgary Flames.

 Turns out, it proved the difference in their 3-0 home win last night in Game 3 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final.

 Coupled with an effective night on the penalty kill against the highly skilled Tampa Bay Lightning, the Flames took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

 "Special teams won the game for us," said Flames penalty killer Ville Nieminen.

 "If you don't do your homework, that team is going to kill you."

 Certainly, the Flames passed with flying colours on the man-advantage and while short-handed.

 They finished perfect on four penalty kills. At the other end, the Flames netted two powerplay goals, including a timely tally for their first man-advantage marker in this series.

 "Yeah, we've been looking for that," said Jordan Leopold, who drew an assist on the powerplay goal by Chris Simon at the 13:53 mark of the second period. "We lost the last game because of our powerplay. Four opportunities early in the game to put one in and we didn't do it. We didn't capitalize.

 "And we capitalized on two (last night). The first one was a big play for us and ended up setting up the big win."

 Moments before the Simon man-advantage marker, it looked like the Lightning were going to cash in despite being shorthanded.

 With Brad Lukowich in the penalty box for slashing, Bolts sniper Brad Richards took a head-man pass and beared down on the Flames net with a partial breakaway.

 Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff made a beautiful blocker save to preserve the scoreless tie and was barrelled over on the play by a sliding Robyn Regehr, who dove to swipe the puck away from Richards.

 "I couldn't get up in time and unfortunately I hit Kipper pretty good there," Regehr said. "I was just happy to see him get up."

 The big defenceman was even more happy to see Simon score the game's opening goal moments later.

 "It was a great job by those guys to execute," said Regehr, who made a slick heads-up pass on the team's other powerplay goal by Jarome Iginla late in the contest.

 Meanwhile, the Lightning barely got a sniff on their first three man-advantage chances -- all in the first period.

 And on the third-period man-advantage, the Flames penalty-killing unit was put to the test but managed to turn away the Lightning despite a sense of urgency from the visitors.

 The yeoman's work by the Flames PK kept the Bolts from extending their streak of eight games with at least one powerplay goal scored.

 "First of all, I think the forwards did a good job with up-ice pressure," Regehr said

 "We were also pretty good in our own zone. We were in good position. And when you're in good position, you allow yourself to have apply pressure to their players when they either bobble the puck, have it on their backhand or along the boards."


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