Tampa will turn up heat

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:32 PM ET


 TAMPA -- Pasty-white reporters from Canada, holed up in hockey rinks the last few months, call Tampa's humidity oppressive.

 Locals, accustomed to having a clean shirt stick to their skin like a dish rag the minute they stroll outside, think of the night air as sultry.

 Either way, amid the steamy, sticky, suffocating closeness, it's easy to see how a gang of gap-toothed puck chasers could lose its cool.

 The visiting Calgary Flames expect their hosts -- undoubtedly cranky after dropping the Stanley Cup final home-opener -- to turn up the heat tonight in Game 2.

 The 21,674 on hand Tuesday certainly were steaming, booing the Lightning off the ice after the second period, down 3-0.

 Even team mascot Hulk Hogan of pro wrestling hysteria packed up his entourage of hangers-on and headed for the limo after 40 minutes, throwing in the towel once his Lightning was in a submission hold.

 Although the best-of-seven is just underway, some players on both sides have hung the "do-or-die" tag on tonight's tilt.

 "It's almost a must-win and they'll come hard," says Flames winger Martin Gelinas.

 "Plus, they're in their own building. As for our game, we don't want to change anything. We want to play the same way but we've got to be better. They've got a lot of skill and you could see it in the third period when they started feeling a little more confident."

 The Flames' 4-1 victory in Game 1 Tuesday night, their fifth consecutive road win, moves them within one of tying an NHL record (10) for digging playoff victories out of a suitcase.

 Yet after yesterday's practice, almost every Flames player repeated the team mantra this post-season: "We have to be better."

 "They were definitely more desperate, you've got to turn it up to another level," Flames centre Craig Conroy says,

 After winning Game 1 on the road in three of their four playoff series (Detroit, San Jose and Tampa), the Flames are conscious of their opponent's heightened desperation when the puck drops tonight.

 "The previous series in Game 2, as we expected, it gets tougher," agrees Iginla.

 "Teams get more desperate, every game in the series as it goes on. So this is a huge game (for us) in that it's a chance to go up two and take two (in Tampa's rink) and they realize the importance of trying to make it 1-1.

 "So we expect it to be a hard game and for them to come out flying even moreso than in the first game. We have to match their intensity and their desperation. "

 For the record, teams winning Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final have clinched the Cup in 51 of the last 65 seasons (78.5%) since the NHL introduced the best-of-seven format in 1939.


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