SAN JOSE -- Wearing the grin of a joker after playing like a king, Ville Nieminen was asked to come up with a name for his rag-tag trio of heroes.
"You can call it whatever," said the colourful Flames winger, pondering the question before snapping to attention.
"You can call it the Here, There and Everywhere Line."
Not exactly catchy but it gets the job done, which is exactly what Nieminen, Shean Donovan and Marcus Nilson did to give the Flames a 2-0 series lead over the San Jose Sharks last night.
A Finn, a Canuck and a Swede gathered from all over the league on two separate trade deadlines came together in brilliant harmony last night when they combined for the Flames' first three goals in a 4-1 win at The Shark Tank.
No natural centreman, no lengthy history and no rhyme or reason why they should be able to single-handedly steal a game from perhaps the fastest team in the league.
And while this unlikely hodge-podge of pucksters generally focuses on frustrating the opposition by criss-crossing the ice like frosting on cinnamon buns, they pieced together a first-period goal for the ages that wound up being the game-winner.
Starting behind Calgary's net where Nilson won the type of battle the Flames thrive on, he made a great pass to Nieminen at the red line.
Kicking the puck up to his stick without breaking stride, Nieminen spotted Donovan wheeling by him and made the subtlest of moves to leave the puck for the charging winger.
With Nieminen dragging a defenceman with him, the on-ice sea of teal parted for Donovan to give him a breakaway from centre ice, which he calmly finished with a deke that looked eerily similar to a penalty shot he scored on earlier in the year.
"Yeah, I think it was the same move," smiled Donovan, exposing a grin with gaps wider than the hole he dashed through.
"I don't know what I was thinking. I just went blank."
While Donovan finished the play like he did during his magical midseason scoring binge, it was Nieminen's brilliant pass that caught San Jose's vaunted defence flat-footed.
"I was going on a line change and he was screaming for the puck -- you might as well give it to a guy who is screaming his lungs out," grinned Nieminen, who added a goal of his own in the third to clinch the first series-opening road sweep in Flames history.
"Our line felt we could do more for our desperate hockey club. We have more hard work and heart than skill."
They used all of it last night as they became the latest heroes in a Flames' post-season of revolving stars.
"Marcus' line set the tone and carried the team," said Craig Conroy, who hadn't even settled into his seat on the bench when Nilson silenced the crowd with a slapper off Jason Marshall and past Nabokov 20 seconds after the Star Spangled Banner finished.
"It was a little stunning -- the cheer on the bench was like nothing because we didn't really see it."
Even those who missed Nilson's opening salvo saw the solid defensive effort they finished the game with, making them arguably the game's first three stars.
"I can't say enough about that line," said Jarome Iginla, who added his name to the list of Flames scorers 44 seconds after Nieminen's snipe.
"Tonight, they were everywhere."
As in Here, There and Everywhere.
Kinda has a ring to it.
They're all over
ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun
, Last Updated: 4:54 PM ET