DETROIT -- Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla reported his squad to be upbeat during the break before overtime last night.
And why not? After all, they had stolen a regulation-time draw with the Detroit Red Wings. And a review of the Wings' OT history had to be heartening.
So out they skated from underdogs to at least a pick-'em bet, and popped the winner after a game that in starting out, appeared to be a thrashing by the favoured Wings.
"We were calm, we felt we were in a good position," the multi-talented Iginla said after Marcus Nilson slammed in the winner 2:39 into the extra period.
"It was our third overtime. Even going into the third period tied on the road is a good position."
Maybe the Flames had a peek at Detroit's overtime statistics. The Wings had lost their last seven playoff overtime games at home.
Maybe, too, they had a look at how past goaltenders have stymied the Wings.
A year ago, it was Jean-Sebastien Giguere of Anaheim. Last series, Nashville's Tomas Vakoun gave them fits before the Wings won.
Last night, it was Miikka Kiprusoff who slammed the door as the Wings poured on the heat by dominating the first half of the game as widely as any they've been in lately.
"We knew were going to weather the storm and that's what we did," Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said after the Wings outshot their visitors 13-2 in the opening 20 minutes.
Once more, the game provided further evidence that season-long accomplishments are rendered null and void once the serious stuff of playoff hockey begins.
The Wings finished atop the 30-team league but that means nothing now. In one game, the Flames negated Detroit's home-ice advantage should the series go seven games.
Now, games are played every couple of days between the same teams. The one with the hot goaltender is most likely to take the bows.
It wasn't until Robert Lang's deceptive wrist shot while he moved across the top of the slot caught him moving that Kiprusoff was vulnerable. He stopped 27 others.
Robyn Regehr matched that later in the second period when his blast through a crowd sailed past the screened Curtis Joseph. It was only Calgary's 10th shot of the game.
The overtime killer was abetted by a cavalier approach by Detroit defender Jiri Fischer behind the Wings goal. Martin Gelinas tricked the puck around him, passed out to Nilson and he snapped the puck in, glove side.
"It is very disappointing, knowing that you start well and that you have home ice and once again, it leads back to the power play," Wings coach Dave Lewis said.
The Wings went 0-for-6 with a man advantage.
In a game such as this, the respective goaltending obviously comes under scrutiny. Lewis exonerated Joseph.
"The first one was a shot through a maze of players. The game-winner was a turnover down low, a poor read (by Fischer) and then a bang-bang play from behind the net. Curtis was good."
Joseph refused to term the low shots-against (18 in total) as unsettling to him.
"I've faced a lot of shots and I've faced a few shots; you just have to take them as they come," he said in a vacant Detroit locker room. "The playoffs are like being on a roller-coaster. You have to keep an even keel."
The young Flames bestowed all manner of bouquets on the talented Wings after this one. It's nice that they respect their elders but you sense their playoff learning curve swung upward in this one.
Tired after a gruelling seven-game set against Vancouver, caught in a first-period shooting gallery and rescued by their goaltender, they began to pull their game together as time wore on.
They've got something to work with now. The Wings once more have a few things to wonder about.
Flames upbeat about overtime
JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press>
, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET