GAME IN A MINUTE
THE NUMBERS GAME
2- Career playoff goals for Olli Jokinen, who silenced his critics with a rock-solid performance. Jokinen also had six shots, an assist, and was a plus-4 in the contest.
30- The number of punishing hits the aggressive Flames team handed out to the Hawks, who could only manage half that number (15) in Game 4.
4:38- Craig Conroy's ice-time before heading off in the second period with an undisclosed injury. Conroy has been subsequently listed as day-to-day.
The Big Hit
In an evening full of big hits, one the better ones came early in the second when both Eric Nystrom and David Moss came in and smashed Niklas Hjalmarsson in tandem behind the Hawks goal.
THE BIG SAVE
Miikka Kiprusoff's biggest save of the night was by no means a spectacular one, but it was vital nonetheless. The Hawks have had a nasty habit of striking back immediately after a Flames goal. With just over six minutes left in the game. Kipper made a pair of stops that kept the Hawks from swiping back the momentum in the game.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
They came out in the third period with their chins up, and reclaimed the momentum through effective physical play that wore on the Hawks over the course of 60 minutes.
OUR THREE STARS
1. Jokinen- Strong forechecking resulted in his first goals in the 'Dome.
2. Jarome Iginla- The captain led his teams' response to Game 3 with two goals of his own.
3. Nystrom- Big hits throughout the game, bigger goal at the end of the game.
Rene Bourque was a late scratch for Game 4. Craig Conroy left in the second for observation and is now listed as day-to-day. There was no update on the status of Daymond Langkow, who sustained an upper body injury. Other sidelined players include Robyn Regehr (lower body), Mark Giordano (upper body). Wayne Primeau (foot) and Rhett Warrener (shoulder) are out indefinitely.
The Flames are off to the 'Windy City' for Game 5 Saturday, April 25 at 7:00 pm (TSN, The Fan 960).
Momentum has been difficult for either team to keep so far in the tight Flames-Blackhawks series, and through the first three games retaining momentum in the second period has provided a specific challenge to the Flames. When adversity called collect in the second period, courtesy of three unanswered Chicago goals that had the Blackhawks erase a 4-1 Calgary lead, the Flames accepted the charges and responded with the kind of composure necessary for success in the playoffs.
"That was a really gutsy performance in terms of our determination and the desperation that we showed... a hard effort from a depleted line-up, and we showed that we have people that want to step up and carry the load," said head coach Mike Keenan.
The 'Dome was roaring Wednesday night, even louder and redder than during Game 3. The crowd was far more relaxed, confident in the team following their strong showing Monday night. The 'Buuuuulin' chants began less than a minute in, as the crowd seemed determined to have a say in the outcome of the game. The Flames were as eager as their fans to get into the head of the Blackhawks net minder Nikolai Khabibulin as they began the game by getting right into the space of Khabibulin, The rough play that finished Game 3 continued into the first period of Game 4 as the Flames came out hitting and the Hawks responded in kind. The physical, punishing hockey seemed to take a toll on the young Hawks team, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Eric Nystrom.
"We just want to keep playing the body, playing physical, wear their guys down. We think that we can wear them down by laying on the body... it's not a genius game plan, it's pretty simple. Just crash, bang and put pucks on the net, and that's what we've been doing," said Nystrom. "It definitely pays dividends in the stretch run if you jeep laying on the body, guys get tired it's tough to play like that."
Nystrom was again a hero for the Flames, as he buried the game-winning goal from a rebound off a Sarich point shot with just under seven minutes left in the game. Nystrom scored the first goal for the Flames in Monday night's Game 3 victory as well.
"(Nystrom is) always in the right spot, a lot of it comes with ice-time," said Adrian Aucoin. "He's one of those guys who does everything right, every night, every day... He doesn't know when to quit. With a little more ice-time comes a little more responsibility and he's making the most of it."
The energy from both teams was apparent from the first face-off, but the Flames had to deal with adversity almost immediately when Patrick Kane finished a Patrick Sharp pass less than five minutes in making it, 1-0 Chicago. Both the players and the crowd were undeterred, and they were rewarded when Jarome Iginla tied the score up less than a minute later, snapping the puck past Khabibulin from inside the right circle.
Olli Jokinen then joined in on the fun, picking up a Cam Barker giveaway in front of Khabibulin and burying his first goal of the playoffs and his first goal at the Saddledome since joining the Flames. The goals continued when Adrian Aucoin sent a point shot through traffic and past Khabibulin at the 12:00 mark, and less than a minute later Jokinen scored his second on a backhand off the butt of Khabibulins stick. Though Jokinen made the largest contributions on the score sheet, he knew it was a team effort all night long.
"Not just one guy (contributed), it's 20 guys, we all had good jump, you just try to work hard, do the little things right, and sometimes you get bounces, but the bottom line is we played good as a team," said Jokinen. "Every single guy showed up tonight, and we played great."
The Hawks responded as Kris Versteeg converted a big rebound off a Brian Campbell point shot. Then Cam Barker tipped a Samuel Pahlsson pass with just over three minutes left in the second. They tied the game on the power-play with under a minute in the second when Dustin Byfuglien tipped a Pahlsson shot past Miikka Kiprusoff with only seconds remaining in the second period. Despite squandering the lead, the Flames went into the intermission remaining composed and confident.
"Going into the third period there was no question, we felt like we could win the game," said Jokinen.
The Flames came out in the third period and staked their claim on the win when Nystrom buried the rebound off a Corey Sarich point shot with just under seven minutes left in the game to take the 5-4 lead. Iginla scored an empty net goal with seconds remaining.
"It's a testament to the group we have here, veteran guys who knew being tied... we turned it into a positive and were able to come out with a victory," said David Moss, who knows Game 5 in Chicago is going to be gruelling.
"It's certainly not going to be easy (in Chicago) and we've got to prepare ourselves to play our best road game," said Moss.
"We're excited to get on the road," agreed Nystrom. "We're laying the body on them hard and we've gotta continue to do that. It's gonna be really exciting."
The Flames battle the Hawks in Chicago for Game 5 on Saturday night (7:00 TSN, The Fan 960).