SAN JOSE -- Would the nut-job in charge of scripting this mystery/drama please report directly to the nearest shrink.
This thing might just sell.
Doing well over the weekend to beef up a plotline that convinced many the Calgary Flames would soon be found lying face down in their own Sea of Red, the scene shifted to The Shark Tank where logic dictated the latest attack would surely see the beaten and bloodied intruders left for bait.
But just when you thought it wasn't safe to head to the beach, the Flames not only escape California with their lives -- they're now the ones poised to finish this soap opera.
Act 6 goes tomorrow night with the host Flames up 3-2 thanks to a 3-0 win last night, leaving them just one game short of the Stanley Cup final.
"We've heard that 75 times this year," said Flames boss Darryl Sutter when reminded his club had been written off following two straight losses at home.
"I think it was our 100th game so we played every game like it was our most important game of the season."
It was, which meant, true to form, Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff were on cue to play leading roles. Again.
The irony of it all is that in a series this unpredictable, the gutsy win still featured many of the same trappings seen throughout:
* Keeping with a couple of series traditions, the Flames got their third straight 2-0 lead in the first period at HP Pavilion and then ensured, for the fifth game in a row, the visitors left winners.
* As always, Kiprusoff bounced back from a sub-par outing with his seventh win in seven tries after games in which he gives up four or more goals.
* Iginla hoisted the club on his shoulders again when it mattered most, with a gritty shorthanded goal to open the game.
* The Cinderella storyline, which has seen the Flames bounce back every time it looks like they're finished, resurfaced again.
"I think it was really our first period -- if you look at all five games this series, the winner is the team that gets off to the best start," said Iginla, who stole the puck at the Sharks blueline and fought off a defenceman as he finished a deke on Evgeni Nabokov six minutes in.
"We love the red, we love the noise and we know how to win at home -- it's all about focus now."
Unfazed by a boisterous crowd (the same one that booed the Sharks off the ice a week earlier), the Flames opened the game with high energy, returning to the physical style that won them the first two games.
Both of Calgary's first-period goals came off forced Sharks turn-overs in Calgary's end that were quickly capitalized on. Minutes after Iginla's goal, Marcus Nilson slammed home a brilliant pass off a rush by Ville Nieminen.
After that the Flames relied, as always, on No. 34 who fought off early shakes to be the hero by preserving the Flames' early lead.
"Once we got that big start from Iggy it just went from there," said Craig Conroy, who scored the game's third goal.
"That's what Iggy does -- that's why he wears the C and is the best player in the NHL.
"That goal was huge as it took the pressure off us, it hurt them on the powerplay and it had them saying, 'Oh no, we're at home.' "
It also had observers scratching their heads as the resiliency of the Flames stole the show again.
Script's worthy of Oscar
ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun
, Last Updated: 3:47 PM ET