Flames stifle Tampa talent

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:37 PM ET


 TAMPA -- It's a key to victory in this Stanley Cup final. Bottle Lightning.

 Often easier said than done but the Calgary Flames did a solid job of just that in their 4-1 series opener over Tampa Bay.

 All season, Tampa Bay has used its fast-break attack to gain control of the play, to create scoring chances and to put its opposition on the defensive.

 To the chagrin of the Lightning and the legions of supporters jammed in the St. Pete Times Forum, the Flames managed to contain that run-and-gun attack Tuesday night.

 No small feat.

 "Our forwards did a great job playing up the ice," said defenceman Robyn Regehr.

 "They didn't get a lot of chances to set up.

 "They're a very skilled team and you don't want them taking it to you."

 Using likely the most pronounced trapping gameplan of the post-season, the Flames kept the likes of Martin St. Louis, Cory Stillman, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards from blazing through the neutral zone and into Calgary territory.

 Sure, some of the cross-ice passes to a wide-open winger connected but rarely did it result in a tangible advantage. Not often did the Flames have to scramble into position.

 Very few odd-man rushes came of it.

 Fewer shots.

 Most importantly, no goals.

 "We were very aware of their speed," said Jarome Iginla. "We haven't seen a lot of them, only on TV and one game earlier in the year, but they can create a lot of offence. They are a fast group, buzz around in the neutral zone and they make a lot of plays, a lot of nifty plays and get you back on your heels."

 Precisely what Tampa will look to do tonight when the best-of-seven series continues in the Sunshine State.

 "You expect them to come out every night with a high degree of desperation," said Flames blueliner Andrew Ference. "Sure, they're not happy with the way that game went but both teams are going to come up hard. Just because we won that first game doesn't mean we don't want to win the second one just as bad."


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