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TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 3:19 PM ET


 TAMPA -- It was a fine how-do-you-do.

 Nikolai Khabibulin, meet Jarome Iginla.

 Martin St. Louis, meet Miikka Kiprusoff.

 Tampa Bay Lightning, meet North of Montana.

 Maybe today USA Today won't feel obligated to refer to "The Calgary Flames, north of Montana in the Province of Alberta" in this series.

 Led by Iginla and backed by Kiprusoff, the Flames put themselves back on the hockey map in getting to this Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1989. Last night the two main men in this great Canadian sports story left their brand on Tampa Bay, south of Quebec in the State of Florida.

 The Flames scored three unanswered goals and chased Hulk Hogan and a collection of cartoon characters in his entourage home after the second period enroute to a 4-1 win in Game 1.

 The evening started with Hogan on the ice shouting, "Tampa Bay, are you ready?" then handing the microphone to original Lightning GM Phil Esposito to proclaim "Let's play hockey!"

 What followed made you wonder if they'd be taking down that 'Safe Is Death' sign in the Tampa dressing room. There was every evidence the Flames went to school on the odd man opportunities, which could be created by the Lightning's go-go game in the offensive zone.

 STUCK TO THEIR GAME

 Despite the hype of going against a high-powered, first-place team, the underdog Flames stuck to their game and turned Tampa Bay into road kill. The Flames are now 9-2 on the road.

 Not that Tampa didn't get their chances.

 Martin St. Louis had four glorious chances to score, was stoned by Kiprusoff again and again before he hit the post, and finally scored on a power play. St. Louis was arguably the best player on the ice. Kiprusoff and Iginla were clearly the co-stars as rest won out over rust.

 "It worked out well," said coach Darryl Sutter. "We needed four lines and five days' rest."

 The Flames, without a doubt, have had more than their fair share of bounces and breaks in these playoffs and they put a bunch of them together on one play to take a 1-0 lead at 3:02 of the first period.

 It was a pinball sort of thing as Andrew Ference bounced a shot off a series of players, including Martin Gelinas, before Khabibulin knocked it off the goal line and into the net.

 The Flames are now 10-1 in the playoffs when scoring first. Normally it's Gelinas who scores last. He's scored all three series-winning goals, two in overtime. But first works, too.

 SHORTHANDED BREAKAWAY

 But it was Iginla, on a shorthanded breakaway, who scored to make it 2-0 in the second period to send this one into the books. Khabibulin made the original save but the puck popped into the air beside the net. Iginla wheeled it in front and scored his playoff-leading 11th goal.

 "I think the shorthanded goal was the difference in the game for us," said Sutter. "One goal obviously wasn't going to be enough. That was a huge goal. That's a second-effort goal. I thought he had everything going. He had his feet going, driving to tough areas. He was really good. And Kipper ... he made two or three big saves before we got that goal."

 Iginla confessed he scored the goal because he stopped to watch the original shot go in. When it didn't, he was in the perfect position to jump on the puck.

 "It was great to see it go in," he said. "Everybody feels good when a shorthanded goal goes in. I had a lot of time to think. I tried to go top corner. I stopped to watch it, thinking it was going to go in."

 Would he have stopped if he didn't think it was going to go in?

 "I hope I would have stopped," he laughed. "I don't know for sure."

 Iginla keeps taking his team by the throat, scoring the big goals and leading the way. But this night he had to overcome the jitters.

 "I didn't know what to expect," said the St. Albert superstar. "I was very, very excited. I was surprised how nervous and excited I was."

 A top-shelf shot from beside the net by Stephane Yelle made it 3-0 before the period was out. Chris Simon scored the other Calgary goal in the final minute of the game.

 But it was Iglina and Kiprusoff - again. Hard to believe they were the two players Sutter called out for not showing up in Game 1 of the first series in Vancouver, north of Washington in the Province of British Columbia.


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