Veterans kick it up a notch

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:29 PM ET


 If Darryl Sutter was sending a message, it arrived loud, clear and right on time.

 The Calgary Flames head coach said before last night's game he wanted -- no, demanded -- more from veterans Denis Gauthier and Martin Gelinas.

 And he got plenty from both last night after benching the pair in the third period of a Game 3 loss to Vancouver.

 Gauthier returned to his mean and nasty self in Game 4, throwing his weight around throughout the night. He logged 19 minutes of ice time in a 4-0 Calgary win.

 Even fans in the Saddledome rafters responded with a 'DE-NIS GAU-THIER! DE-NIS GAU-THIER!' chant in the third period, even though their favourite blueliner wasn't even on the ice.

 Gelinas was back to form too, providing a persistent forecheck all night and also drawing a penalty driving to the net in the second period.

 "It was a total team effort as far as physical play goes," Gauthier said.

 "Not a lot of guys were turning any hits away, so that's just my part, but 19-20 others guys out there did an excellent job playing physical as well.

 "It's something we've never doubted. All season long we've responded to different situations and different obstacles and that was just another one. I like the character on this team, I like the way guys respond to tough situations and I thought it was a good way to respond tonight. But it's a best two-out-of-three now -- still got a lot of work to do."

 Gauthier politely declined talking with the media during an off day Monday, saying he wanted to focus on last night's contest.

 "It never wanted it to be about me," Gauthier shrugged. "It was about the team and I wanted to step up and contribute and play a whole lot better. I felt I played better and it feels a whole lot better with the win tonight."

 Sutter said challenging Gauthier and Gelinas was necessary to get the most out of a club that's built its reputation on working hard.

 "We can't get by with just a great solo performance," Sutter argued.

 "We're going to have to get everybody giving it everything they've got. If it's by challenging somebody, it's no big deal."

 Defenceman Mike Commodore, who drew into the lineup replacing injured Toni Lydman, said Gauthier's performance was typical of the hard-hitting presence he normally provides.

 "He played unbelievably -- making big hits all over the place," Commodore said.

 "Denis laid out some big hits but then everybody right down the line make some big hits.

 "It was a team effort."


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