Oh, behave

TODD SAELHOF -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 5:35 PM ET


 The Calgary Flames continued to play with fire yesterday at Joe Louis Arena.

 This time, they got burned.

 Too many penalties finally caught up with the Flames, especially early, as the Red Wings scored on three of six powerplay opportunities in pacing them to a 5-2 victory and an even up of this second-round series.

 "I don't think it was a very well officiated game," Flames coach Darryl Sutter complained.

 "Twenty teams took more minor penalties this year than the Calgary Flames, so I can't understand why that's changed come playoff time.

 "It has changed and I guess it has to do with who you're playing and that you're a huge underdog."

 Sorry, Darryl but those early calls were warranted -- Andrew Ference for holding Henrik Zetterberg, Chuck Kobasew for bowling over a defenceman and subsequently goaltender Curtis Joseph and Martin Gelinas for backing into both the crease and Joseph.

 And the goaltender interference call on Gelinas finally cost the Flames when Tomas Holmstrom redirected Nicklas Lidstrom's powerplay point shot for the first goal of the game -- the one to fuel the Red Wings confidence in the contest and perhaps in this series.

 It's not as if the Flames were going to get away with another perfect game on the penalty kill, as they did going six-for-six in their Game 1 victory Thursday night.

 This is especially true given the fact the Wings made the powerplay a focus of their concerns for Game 2 after clunking along at an underachieving 5.7% efficiency through the first seven games of their post-season.

 It proved to be the lowest efficiency of the first-round survivors and third-worst of all 16 playoff teams.

 And having won three Stanley Cup champions in the last seven years, you can rest assured they won't stumble for a long stretch with the man-advantage.

 No way.

 No how.

 "Everybody knew that team is so dangerous and they made us pay with the powerplay," said Flames forward Ville Nieminen.

 "We have to learn something from that, go to Tuesday and find fresh legs."

 Trouble is, the Flames' tenacity and aggressive style are what led the Flames into the second-round .

 It was the kind of hockey that proved to be too hot to handle for the Vancouver Canucks.

 And with a continued commitment to the same kind of hard-nosed hockey, they have the potential again to give the Red Wings a serious run.

 Certainly, it's working to keep the enemy's heads on a swivel.

 Too bad it has the same effect on the officials, who have seen fit to hand out an average of nearly six powerplays per playoff game against the Flames.

 Their 51 total is 11 more than the Canucks and 10 more than the Red Wings -- the next two highest totals in the league.

 Indeed, it's a far cry from their 20th ranking during the regular season, when discipline played a big part in their success.

 But then again, so too did their take-no-prisoners style on the forecheck and backcheck.

 And while Sutter and Co. might want to see less penalties charged their way, they're not about to abandon their aggressive game.

 Nor should they.

 While surrendering too many powerplays to the Wings might prove to be their undoing in these playoffs, it's certain sitting back and laying off the attack would definitely do them in.

 Besides the older Wings are more likely to wilt under the continued pressure of the Flames physical game.

 So if the penalties come with the Flames approach to hockey, then so be it. Let their quality penalty kill help bail them out.

 Because they can't forget what got them this far.


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