Curses! Curses!

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:08 PM ET

 The curse of the Cup continues.

 Since winning the Stanley Cup in 1989, the Calgary Flames have suited up with a chance to dispose of a first round opponent seven times.

  Seven times they've lost, including last night's heartbreaking 5-4 double overtime loss at the 'Dome to the Vancouver Canucks.

 The only solace for Flames fans comes in the form of Game 7 tomorrow night at GM Place.

 Oh sure, over the last 15 years, previous playoff slip-ups involved radically different storylines, rosters and expectations but all finished the same way:

 With Calgary losing.

 And while hockey experts have dissected each loss to find explanations for Calgary's misfortune, perhaps just one factor can explain it:

 The curse.

 On May 25, 1989, the Flames evidently angered the Hockey Gods by becoming the first team in hockey lore to win Lord Stanley's mug on the sacred confines of hockey's church, the Montreal Forum.

 They haven't won a round since.

 During that span, five of the seven losses have come in overtime, drudging up names such as Esa Tikkanen (1991), Pavel Bure (1994) and Ray Whitney (1995), who all provided Game 7 heartache for Calgary fans.

 Whitney's goal capped a two-game comeback for the San Jose Sharks, who were once down 3-2 in the series.

 One year earlier, Bure's breakaway capped a three-game comeback that saw Trevor Linden's Canucks eclipse a 3-1 series deficit.

 Then came last night, when Brendan Morrison played the villain, beating Miikka Kiprusoff early in the third OT period.

 It nullified a gritty four-goal comeback by the hosts who sent 19,289 screaming fans into a state of euphoria by rebounding midway through the second period to stage what would have been one of the greatest comebacks in franchise lore.

 It was all for naught, setting the stage for tomorrow's deciding game.

 It also marked the eighth playoff overtime loss in a row for the Flames.

 The last time the Flames triumphed in post-season extra time was April 14, 1991, when Theo Fleury flipped out, pirouetting across centre to celebrate a 2-1 win in Edmonton, forcing Game 7.

 The video endures, as will the painful memory of last night's loss.

 In a series this close, you can't call the Flames loss a choke, even if they did do their best to fritter the game away early with sloppy, tentative play.

 Nerves best explain the Flames early struggles last night as a laughable first-period saw them throw as many pucks to the net (five) as they threw bodychecks.

 They were lucky to escape the first down only 1-0, from a goal by Henrik Sedin.

 Kiprusoff was proven a mere mortal by Daniel Sedin, Brad May and even Geoff Sanderson by the 10-minute mark of the second to give the Canucks a 4-0 lead.

 Sixteen seconds later, a controversial tip-in by Oleg Saprykin that took several minutes to have confirmed by the officials, spurred a comeback that saw Ville Nieminen, Martin Gelinas and Chris Clark get in on the action.

 It set the stage for the stage for a goal that only serves to enhance the legend of the Cup Curse, which will loom over tomorrow night's game as it has for 15 years.


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