No way, San Jose

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:33 PM ET


 CALGARY -- When Martin Gelinas scored the goal which stood to be the winner, you knew this was meant to be. You knew this was destiny.

 Who needs a lucky loonie buried in the ice when you have Gelinas on the ice?

 It's almost beyond belief the last Canadian team you'd pick become the first Canadian team to make it to the Stanley Cup final since 1994.

 That the Calgary Flames have done this is extraordinary enough by itself. But last night Gelinas scored a third straight Stanley Cup series-winning goal. He's sealed the deal in every series. And in every series the Flames were playing a division champion team.

 SHOT FROM THE DOT

 His shot from the dot in the faceoff circle at 13:02 of the second period gave the Flames a 3-1 win in Game 6 and the Western Conference Final, four games to two over the San Jose Sharks.

 Gelinas scored the series winner in overtime in Game 7 in the first round against the Canucks. He scored the series winner in overtime in Game 6 against the Detroit Red Wings. Those two, and the one he scored for the Carolina Hurricanes to settle a series with the Toronto Maple Leafs, made him the only player in Stanley Cup history to score three Stanley Cup series-winning goals in overtime.

 He didn't wait until OT last night. The Flames didn't want to play with fire again.

 But if that isn't enough, Gelinas became the first player ever to score three consecutive series winning goals.

 That's astounding. That's astonishing.

 But that's not the whole story.

 Gelinas not only scored the series winner for the team which had missed the playoffs for eight straight years and not won a series since the Flames won their only Stanley Cup back in 1989, he became the go-to guy going into the Stanley Cup final both on and off the ice.

 Only one player can say he played for the Canadian team in both the 1994 and the 2004 Stanley Cup finals - Martin Gelinas.

 That's stupefying.

 The kid who won a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1990, played for the Canucks in the seven-game defeat to Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe, Glenn Anderson, Craig MacTavish, Esa Tikkanen, Jeff Buekeboom and all those ex-Oilers back in '94.

 "Marty The Eliminator" said Andrew Ference as the Flames celebrated in a dressing room which hadn't seen such smiles in 15 years.

 "He's our go-to guy. It's so fitting. He's the hardest-working guy on the team," said the Sherwood Park product.

 "This is a hard working team. He has a lot of competition. But he's the hardest worker. He's the example for us all. He delivered the knockout punch again. And look at us now. That's how I dreamed it would be."

 SENSE OF HUMOUR

 Gelinas was maybe the calmest guy and even had his sense of humour going when they sat him and Jarome Iginla down in the media interview room sharing a single microphone.

 "You'd think they could afford two microphones for the Stanley Cup final," he said.

 "It was a great team effort. I was at the right place at the right time. I was lucky it went in."

 While Gelinas made himself the series-settling story yet again, it was Iginla who again stepped up and led the way. While a home team finally won a game in this series, every single game was won by the team which scored first. And that was Calgary when Iginla, who scored first in Game 5 in San Jose, pulled the trigger on a power play late in the first period.

 "It really is amazing," said the St. Albert product of Gelinas scoring the winner yet again.

 "He's an example for us every game. He works so hard. Every shift. Every game. He's our example. "He's always smiling, but he's intense and built for the playoffs."

 Craig Conroy was the playmaker to produce both Calgary goals and should be remembered for the moment as well.

 And you don't get to the Stanley Cup final without great goaltending, and Miikka Kiprusoff gave it to the Flames again - stopping all but Alyn McCauley's as the Sharks fired 18 shots on goal.

 But it was Gelinas, the man of the moment again.

 And it was the one player on the ice who was on the ice the last time a Canadian team was in the final who was being asked to put this all in perspective.

 "At the start of the season we knew we had a gritty team," he said. "Our goal was to make the playoffs. But to say we'd be in the Stanley Cup final ...

 "It's hard to believe. But here we are!"


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