Flames missing opening spark

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 5:30 PM ET


DETROIT --  In a playoff season full of Calgary Flames firsts, one is sadly lacking.

 First period edge in play.

 Just like the opener in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series, the Flames yesterday afternoon again appeared to be skating uphill on tilted ice in the opening frame against the Detroit Red Wings.

 "Again we didn't come out with a good start and that hurt us. I know myself, I didn't have a good game. I wasn't on," said Calgary defenceman Jordan Leopold.

 Added fellow rearguard Steve Montador: "They came out hard again with the shots and they're capable of doing that with how good they are. We had Miikka (Kiprusoff) there for the most part but we didn't challenge (Curtis) Joseph enough and that's something we have to do for Game 3.

 "I think we're as prepared as we've ever been. They're a good team and showed that both games."

 The shot clock has hammered that point home with authority.

 Even though Red Wings fans had no goals to cheer about in the scoreless first period, they had plenty to applaud after watching their squad fire 15 shots at Kiprusoff.

 Joseph had only three to block at the other end.

 Detroit held a 13-2 edge in shots in the first period of the series-opener.

 It's a dangerous trend but one caused by different reasons, said Shean Donovan.

 "The first game we came out and gave them a lot of respect," said Donovan, probably Calgary's best player in yesterday's 5-2 loss.

 "Obviously you've got to respect your opponent but we took that a bit overboard.

 "This time, we just didn't come out and play our game."

 First periods have hardly been Calgary's forte throughout the playoffs.

 They've failed to score a first period goal in five straight games and six of the last seven outings.

 Often, though, they've regrouped over the remainder of the game.

 This time it was the Wings who overcame it, a big deal considering how Kiprusoff appeared ready to duplicate his Game 1 heroics.

 "The one thing we said is we weren't going to do was get frustrated or get pressing," said Kris Draper.

 "Calgary's a team that thrives on turnovers and a team making mistakes when trying to open it up. Basically that's what we didn't want to do.

 "We just wanted to keep doing the things we were doing.

 "We had a good first period but didn't have anything to show for it and we wanted to stay on the attack."


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