The Canucks look to take the series lead for the first time tonight in Game 3 against the Flames and spoil the party in the first NHL playoff game in Calgary in six years.
It took a little more than one game for it to happen but the hostility in the Canucks-Flames rivalry has finally been resurrected. The fight-filled end in Vancouver's 4-1 Game 2 win confirms as much. The intensity level figures to reach an even greater high tonight when the Saddledome hosts its first NHL post-season affair since April 2009. The Flames will be looking to feed off their fans and cling on to the home-ice advantage which they earned after winning Game 1 in Vancouver.
The Canucks, who did not skate yesterday, are expected to go with the exact same lineup that they have for the first two games of this series. The Flames, meanwhile, spent a good chunk of Saturday wondering whether or not blue-liner Deryk Engelland would be suspended as a result of his late-game shenanigans in Game 2 but ultimately learned he escaped supplemental discipline. Sam Bennett, who sat out most of the third period with an apparent injury, is expected to be able to play. Jonas Hiller will get the start for Calgary despite being pulled in Game 2. Eddie Lack will get the call for the Canucks.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
2015 Playoff Record
Tied 1-1 Tied 1-1
All-time Playoff Record
All-time Playoff head-to-head
2014.15 Regular Season Record
The Flames were one of the most disciplined teams in the league during the regular season finishing with the third fewest penalty minutes overall but they got unhinged in a big way in Game 2 finishing with 95 penalty minutes – just 15 minutes shy of tying a franchise record for most in a single playoff game, while establishing a new high mark for a Canuck opponent in playoff history. Most of those penalty minutes were accrued in the late-game brouhaha that saw several players handed fighting majors and misconducts, but it wasn't as if the Flames were squeaky clean before that either. Through two games in the series, Vancouver has now enjoyed seven power plays. It may not seem like a lot but considering the Canucks only had eight total power plays over their four-game regular season series against Calgary, it may be a sign that the Flames are starting to drift from the disciplined play they were known for in the regular season.
One way the Flames have been playing on the edge is by driving hard to the net and, not so subtly, getting in the face of netminder Eddie Lack. They had some success doing that in Game 2 with their lone goal coming off a point shot with traffic in front. With Lack playing the way he has been so far, Calgary's best chance is to continue crashing the net and trying to jam the puck past him in the ensuing melee. Vancouver will need to be prepared for a very aggressive Calgary squad and make them pay the price if they want to get to the front of the net.
Keys to the Game
Turn the tide early. Just like how the Canucks came out flying early in Game 2, the Flames will look to do the same when they get in front of their home fans for the first time in the playoffs. Vancouver not only wants to weather the early storm but find a way to be the aggressor and quickly quiet down what should be a rowdy Saddledome.
Keep throwing the body. If ever there was an indication that the Canucks' physical play is starting to pay dividends, it came in Game 2 when they forced rookie Sam Bennett to leave the contest. With two of Calgary's top forwards – the other being Monahan – allegedly banged up, Vancouver needs to stay the course and keep punishing Calgary's not-so-physical skaters.
Top line can't be silent. Zero even-strength points in two games isn't going to cut it when you're the top line. So the onus will be on the trio of Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler to snap out of their funk and be a difference-maker tonight. With home ice comes preferably match-ups so maybe getting out of the Sedins' shadow can help get them going offensively.
By the Numbers
All-time win percentage for the Flames in best-of-7 playoff series that were tied 1-1 (8-10; 3 straight losses).
Canucks' All-time playoff win percentage at the Saddledome (6-7). They were 1-2 in all-time playoff games at the Stampede Corral.
All-time win percentage for the Canucks in best-of-7 playoff series that were tied 1-1 (11-11).
Time a Canucks-Flames series has been tied 1-1. The winner of Game 3 has gone on to lose two of the previous three series.
Shots for Daniel Sedin through two playoff games, four more than the next leader (Vrbata).
Combined penalty minutes in Game 2. The Canucks' all-time playoff record for most PIMs by both teams combined in a game is 188 (Apr. 29, 1982 vs. CHI).