Old-Time Hockey!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:25 PM ET


CALGARY -- Old-time hockey. Real old.

 It was the first game of a Stanley Cup final series on Canadian ice in a decade - the first involving Calgary in 15 years and five days. But in some ways it went back even further than that.

 When was the last time in a Stanley Cup final did the stars of the two teams engage in a fight like Jarome Iginla and Vinnie Lecavalier?

 Maybe it was back in Conn Smythe's "Beat 'em in the alley" days in Toronto. Or somebody vs. Gordie Howe way back when. A poll among veteran scribes in the pressbox last night couldn't recall an example.

 In addition to his fight, Iginla scored the final goal in a 3-0 Flames win to take a 2-1 series lead. A fight. A goal. An assist. The old "Gordie Howe hat trick."

 And the guy who is supposed to do the fighting around here, Chris Simon, scored the winner.

 Thus my question in the post-game media press conference: "Chris, could you talk about Jarome's fight and Jarome, could you talk about Chris's goal?"

 Simon, who you may be surprised to know has scored four of the six Flames power-play goals in the playoffs, laughed.

 "Yeah, it's usually the other way around.

 "I think that fight was huge. It really set the tone physically for us.

 "We talked before the game that we had to bring a physical presence. They have a lot of skill on that side and especially those top two lines. If you give them time and space, they can thread the needle to anybody. We tried to take the time and space away tonight."

 Iginla praised Simon.

 "Si's goal was another example of how he keeps coming up big for us. He took a first shot. He didn't quit. He took another.

 "They raised their play in Game 2 and I thought we really upped it as a group physically in this one. The fight just kind of happened."

 Lecavalier had his own perspective.

 "We had no offence. There were no offensive skills in the first period. We played way too defensive. I don't know why."

 The fight, which began with Iginla playing Lecavalier instead of the puck behind the net, just happened, he said.

 "Jarome is a good competitor," said Lecavalier. "He was in front of me. I said, 'Why not? I'm big. I'll try.' It's not my role. But sometimes in the playoffs ..."

 Neither coach wanted to make much of the fight or the physical play.

 "I didn't even see what started it," said Sutter. "Hey, it's about excitement and enthusiasm."

 John Tortorella said, "It's part of the game. Two of the best players going at it - nothing the matter with that.

 "As for the physical part, again that's part of the game. We need to respond physically. That's playoff hockey."

 There was more to the night than one fight.

 It started with a pair of punishing hits for openers - one by Calgary's Ville Nieminen on Cory Stillman and the other by Tampa's Cory Sarich on Stephane Yelle. Until Simon scored the first goal at 13:53 of the second period, it was like the two teams chose this game plan to establish the extent of their will to win.

 The two teams rocked each other for the first 20 minutes, which could have been played without a puck. It was one of the most compelling periods played in a long, long time in which there were only seven shots on goal.

 The puck made its first noticeable appearance in the second when Brad Richards went in on a shorthanded breakaway and was foiled by Miikka Kiprusoff.

 Sixteen seconds later Simon was banging home his own rebound after failing to bang in Iginla's. And, as has been the case throughout these playoffs, the first goal was the game.

 The Flames, who made it 2-0 when Lecavalier turned the puck over and Shean Donovan picked the top corner fewer than four minutes later, are now 12-1 when scoring first. Combined the two finalists are 23-3 when scoring the first goal of the game.

 "It was one of them deals," said Sutter. "Who scores the first goal. Kiprusoff stops Richards on the breakaway. We come back and score. That's the hockey game."

 But is it the series?

 Teams winning Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final with the series tied 1-1 have won the Cup 21 of 24 occasions. One of the three teams which bucked the trend was the 1989 Flames to win Calgary's only title.

 So far, Calgary has used Tampa's pattern from the Eastern Conference finals. Tortorella's team won all the odd games (1-3-5-7) over the Flyers.

 When was the last time there was a Stanley Cup final in which the scores were 4-1, 4-1 and 3-0 and it was so interesting?


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