Defence can't rest

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:41 PM ET

 Never mind the need for goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to bounce back for Game 3.

 He'll be fine.

  Always has been in the past after a loss and allowing four goals.

 But the defence in front of him needs to rebound tonight for the Calgary Flames' first home game of the Stanley Cup final series (6 p.m., Saddledome).

 It needs to slow down the skilled Tampa Bay Lightning forwards, who squared the best-of-seven series at 1-1 with an awesome offensive assault to win 4-1 in Thursday's Game 2.

 "We need to play better as a team -- moreso than Kipper," said Flames right-winger Shean Donovan. "I didn't think he played bad. We've been good all year at making sure the other team doesn't get good, quality second shots. Usually, we take them away. But I didn't think we did that.

 "As for Kipper, those goals weren't his fault by any means."

 Indeed, the first two goals weredue to the Lightning out-working the Flames in front of Kiprusoff. Then came a couple of insurance markers scored with the Flames losing focus defensively and the skilled Lightning players taking advantage of the situation.

 "In watching the game and rewatching parts of it again (yesterday) and breaking it down, we can see exactly where we have to have huge improvements," said Flames assistant coach Jim Playfair. "It's starting in our own zone and being aggressive in our system and it's working together and getting our defence to do a better job of moving it quicker to our forwards."

 The Lightning boasts two lines of offensive ingenuity -- one more than the San Jose Sharks -- so the Flames have to be as defensively sound as they were against both the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings.

 "They are more than Vincent Lecavalier," said Flames GM-head coach Darryl Sutter.

 "I mean ... He had a big game (in Game 2) but they have two very high-octane lines."

 Lecavalier and Brad Richards led each of those lines and caused the Flames trouble in in Thursday's decision.

 And the Lightning also boasts playoff points leader and regular-season scoring champion Martin St. Louis, plus Cory Stillman, Dave Andreychuk and Ruslan Fedotenko.

 But it wasn't simply the Lightning's offensive prowess giving the Flames fits. Led by Lecavalier, the Bolts took the defence by storm physically.

 "They played a very, very good forechecking game in Game 2," said Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr. "They put a lot of pressure on us every time. We didn't do a very good job of handling that."

 Perhaps it's because the Lightning threw more at the Flames than they expected.

 "No ... they did what we expected them to do," Playfair said. "We never under-rated their talent. Look at the teams we've played -- Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose. We know what we're up against.

 "They're a good, quick, aggressive team that got better. We just have to match that intensity -- we have to be much better (tonight)."

 Especially on defence.


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