Canucks crushed

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:04 PM ET


 The Calgary Flames were waiting for a big performance from their special teams.

 They finally got it last night.

 Needing a victory to even their opening-round playoff series, the Calgary Flames didn't just match Vancouver's more touted skill players but overran them.

 Using a shorthanded tally and a powerplay goal to set the tone, the Flames claimed a one-sided 4-0 victory over the Canucks before a Saddledome sellout crowd of 19,289 to knot the best-of-seven series at two wins apiece.

 "For whatever reason, we didn't play good and they played well," said Vancouver forward Brendan Morrison.

 "They did what they had to do and it's up to us to regroup.

 "They were better than us in battles. They won more battles, were more physical.

 "They deserved to win."

 The series returns to Vancouver for Game 5 tomorrow at GM Place (8:30 p.m., CBC).

 Needing a spark, the Flames found one in the man they call Sandbox.

 Stephane Yelle returned after missing seven games due to a hip injury and ignited the crowd and his teammates with the game-winning goal less than a minute into the second period.

 "It feels good. I felt pretty good out there," said Yelle.

 "As a team, we played well and were composed out there and patient."

 Some would say dominant.

 After Yelle cracked the goose-egg, the hosts simply took over the contest through the rest of the one-sided second period -- at one point they had a 10-1 edge in shots -- and finally received their reward when Chris Clark and Shean Donovan tallied 27 seconds apart to salt away the contest.

 "We got outbattled for some pucks, we slipped off some coverage. I was most concerned with that," said Canucks head coach Marc Crawford.

 "In the first period, we didn't give them much and we shouldn't have given them much in the second period."

 Jarome Iginla's empty-netter rounded out the scoring.

 Given all the offensive support he could ask for, Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff shut the door for his first career playoff shutout and the franchise's first since the spring of 1995.

 Judging his performance simply by the 20 saves he made would make it appear Kiprusoff had an easy night.

 However, in the battle of the twineminders (who were minor-league teammates), he was easily the better man.

 Not only did Kiprusoff deny Morrison on a partial breakaway mere moments into the clash, he came through with several clutch stops while his squad killed eight Vancouver powerplays.

 In fact, it's the first game the Canucks failed to score with the man-advantage.

 Johan Hedberg, a hero after stepping between the pipes for the injured Dan Cloutier and collecting the win in Game 3 Sunday night, blocked 28 shots but guessed wrong on Clark's insurance tally and juggled a few pucks.

 The victory also ensures another home playoff date for Calgary, Game 6 Saturday night.


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