Fire in the Flames

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:09 PM ET


 CALGARY -- It's a helluva way to have to coach. But nobody does it better than a Sutter and nobody has done it better than Darryl Sutter with the Calgary Flames this year.

 He pushes button. He pushed them for 82 games to get this team in the playoffs for the first time in eight years here. And he's pushed them in the playoffs to get them within two wins of a first playoff- series win for the franchise since the Flames won the Stanley Cup in 1989.

 He publicly challenges his players. He risks the team turning on him or individuals going from bad to worse in serious sulks. But so far every button he's pushed in these playoffs has been the right one.

 "We can't win by one great solo performance," he said. "Everybody has to be going.

 "If that means I have to challenge somebody, so be it. It's not that big a deal."

 After the Flames lost Game 1 he publicly called out his superstar Jarome Iginla and his goalie Mikka Kiprusoff.

 They were his heroes in Game 2.

 After Calgary lost Game 3, he did it again with Denis Gauthier by benching him for the third period, and with support players Shean Donovan, Chris Clark and Martin Gelinas in front of the media.

 They all came through in Game 4.

 "The support guys have to give it all they've got or it doesn't work," he said.

 "It's a tough way to play. But that's the way we've gone about it for 82 games and that's the way we've got to go about it. How else are we going to win if the whole deal goes back to being a one-man show again. We need to get it out of some other guys."

 TAKING A LITTLE TIME

 It may be taking a little time to deliver Stanley Cup playoff wins in the Saddledome. But when they get one, it's decisive.

 Calgary fans waited nine years to watch the Flames win a home playoff game. It was May 15, 1995 and it was a 5-0 win over the San Jose Sharks.

 This one was 4-0 over the Vancouver Canucks, a win which sent the Flames - who haven't won a playoff series since they won their only Stanley Cup back in 1989 - to Vancouver for Game 5 even up in games and guaranteed a Game 6 back here Saturday.

 "We need secondary goal scores like Shean Donovan, Chris Clark and Martin Gelinas to score," said Sutter going into the game.

 Ask and ye shall receive.

 Clark and Donovan scored after Stephane Yelle opened in the first minute of the second period to give the Flames a 3-0 lead at the end of the sandwich session.

 Yelle was back in the line-up for the first time after suffering a hip injury late in the regular season. Yelle missed the final four regular-season games and three playoff games.

 While the 19,289 fans serenaded Johan Hedberg with his last name throughout, the guy who three seasons ago had Pittsburgh fans wearing foam antlers, didn't deserve to be wearing the goat horns after this one.

 The former Manitoba Moose could hardly be blamed for giving up the goal to Yelle. Brent Sopel of the Canucks gave the puck away and then proceeded to stand there and watch Yelle score shorthanded.

 GOALMOUTH SCRAMBLE

 The second goal came on the much-maligned Flames power play which hadn't produced a goal in close to two dozen consecutive tries. It was Gauthier who fed Clarke for the goal. The third goal came out of a goal-mouth scramble with the puck going in off Canucks defenceman Bryan Allen.

 "Somebody else had to contribute," said Sutter. "Donovan was better tonight. Clarke was better tonight Now we've just got to get some more guys into it."

 It's not comfortable for a player when a coach calls you out in the playoffs.

 "Obviously it's hard on us," said Donovan. But he's pretty good at pushing the right buttons and it worked for us tonight."

 Gautheir doesn't rave about Sutter's style.

 "That's fine," he said. "That's his job. That's what he does best. That's his role. He's been pushing the right buttons. You just don't want to be challenged too often."

 Fourteen more times and you win the Stanley Cup.


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