First goal still key for Flames

Ian Busby, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:03 PM ET

With the way this series is going, the Calgary Flames may just want to spot the Chicago Blackhawks a goal to start Game 5.

Whoever scores first in the first-round set has gone on to lose every time.

The Flames are having a tough time holding leads, so maybe they should deploy a new strategy play from behind.

“Absolutely not,” captain Jarome Iginla said with a laugh.

“You still want to score the first goal, but for whatever reason it hasn’t meant that much this series.

“Playoffs ... you are never out of it. In the regular-season, the percentages wouldn’t be in that favour at all. You just keep going no matter what in the playoffs.”

In Wednesday’s Game 4 win at the Saddledome, the Flames allowed the Hawks to score just 4:40 into the opening period. But Iginla replied with the tying goal about a minute later.

Game 3 was a similar story, with Patrick Sharp getting the visitors on the board just 2:03 in. Game 4 hero Eric Nystrom tied it less than five minutes later.

The Flames opened the scoring in Games 1 and 2 at the United Center but couldn’t hold those leads, so it seems an early deficit just wakes a home team up.

It’s a peculiar scenario for the Flames to ponder going into Chicago tomorrow night for Game 5 with the series tied 2-2.

“The next game, the team that scores first might end up winning,” said Flames defenceman Adrian Aucoin.

“Usually the team that scores first gets a momentum boost, but there are momentum swings all game long.”

For the third time in four games, the Flames couldn’t keep the young Hawks down with a second-period lead.

The Flames had a powerful run of three goals early in the middle frame Wednesday, with Olli Jokinen scoring his first two NHL playoff goals, but the Hawks roared back.

Two of the three to tie it were powerplay markers as the Hawks were able to control the puck and stay away from the Flames’ style.

“We’re just trying to stay on the body and be physical but their skill level is unbelievable,” Nystrom said. “They make great plays.

“If you give them an inch, they will take a foot and then they’re on their way to a mile. We have to stick to our game plan at all times or else it bites us in the butt.”

During the regular season, the Flames had a 26-6-5 record when scoring first. The Hawks had a 33-5-5 mark when getting on the board before their opponents.

Both teams are 0-2 during this series.

Being that three of the four games were within a goal late in the third period, it seems home ice is the only things separating the two teams.

“There’s no reason to get down on ourselves. We’re still in a good spot, so we’re going to be excited about playing in our own building,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We just have to put these two games behind us.”

The Flames gutted out the win after blowing the lead in Game 4 and that was a different story from the first two in Chicago.

So the Flames feel they have the momentum and confidence leaving home.

“You draw positives from anything possible at this time of year,” Aucoin said.

“Winning two in a row is huge, especially against that team. The way it was won — good character, playing physical and doing the little things — that’s a boost for us.”


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