'We want to end it'

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:27 PM ET

 The first five games were the easy part.

 It might not look like it after a quick scan of the Calgary Flames dressing room as the combatants are bruised and scarred and have even lost teammates for this brutally physical series and beyond.

  But the team has revelled in its role as underdog, playing for its life every night and fighting for every ounce of respect, surely earning a measure from the highly regarded Vancouver Canucks in the process.

 Now the we're-just-glad-to-be-invited Flames face their sternest test yet -- finishing the job by clinching the best-of-seven series tonight on home ice. But it won't be easy.

 The Canucks proved that a year ago, recovering from a 3-1 deficit against the

 St. Louis Blues to win the 2003 Western Conference quarter-final. The tables were turned the following round as the Minnesota Wild fought back from being down 3-1 last spring to shock the Canucks in the semis.

 The Flames now find themselves playing with house money in Game 6 tonight. Lose and there's still a tomorrow to look forward to, a luxury the Canucks can no longer afford, making them more dangerous than ever.

 "We want to end it in Game 6 but we know it's going to be the toughest game of the series," agrees Flames captain Jarome Iginla.

 "The last game was the toughest to date and the intensity has grown. It's important for us and the feeling in our room is we're preparing for it like we have for all the other games. We want to be physical, we want to be skating. Last game, at the beginning, they came out with a huge start, as we expected. This is a game we need the huge start and that's what we're going to be concentrating on.

 "It's also important not to get ahead of ourselves and get over-excited or over-hyped. It's still about having the same preparation we've had for every game of the series."

 Playing with an urgency needed to send the Canucks home for the summer has the Flames focusing on matching Vancouver's physical play in the opening minutes tonight.

 Most Flames agree it's the key to preventing the Canucks from banging and crashing their way back into the series, earning a seventh game in Vancouver.

 "It's the same type of thing we have to do each and every game with the exception Vancouver's probably going to come out harder than they have any other time in this series," offers hard-hitting Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr.

 "We have to be able to match their start, their physical play, their intensity and be ready to push back too and exceed that."

 Fellow d-man Denis Gauthier, benched by coach Darryl Sutter for a portion of Game 3, knows all about challenges and sees tonight's chance to clinch the series as another.

 "It's a good challenge, an exciting feeling and we're hoping we can get the job done," Gauthier says.

 "We have two tries to do it ... we don't want to go back to Vancouver, for sure. We know we're going to be in for a tough battle and we'll see if we have that killer instinct."

 Assistant coach Rich Preston seems to have the answer. The Flames need to put forth their best effort tonight, disregarding their one-game insurance policy.

 "We definitely want to come out like it's Game 7 for us," Preston insists.

 Failing that, there will be one Monday night in Vancouver.


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