CALGARY, AB -- If there’s a flicker of hope for Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley, it comes from the fact that he’s been down 3-1 before. Twice, he says proudly, his team has rallied en route to winning a championship.
As coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Hartley’s crew rallied against the Springfield Falcons in the semifinal before capturing the Calder Cup. Coaching in Zurich, Hartley’s crew again overcame the deficit en route to winning the Swiss league title.
The common thread between the two teams?
“Hard work,” Hartley said.
“Playoffs, anything can happen and especially in our situation. We want to keep going. This has been a great season for us. I know how resilient our players have been. It’s not that we’re down 1-3 or that we didn’t win in Anaheim. We need to win one game. Lets win one game, lets bring it back to the ‘C of Red’, and after this, lets see what happens. We need to win tomorrow night, plain and simple.”
A victory extends Calgary’s season. A loss ends it.
But success in Anaheim has been fleeting for the Flames.
Including both the regular season and playoffs, Anaheim has won 21 straight games against Calgary at Honda Center, dating back to Game 3 of their first-round playoff series in 2006.
In 2014,15, the Flames went winless in two regular season games in Anaheim and were outscored 9-5. In Games 1 and 2 of the second round series, the Ducks outscored the Flames 9-1.
“All the history there, at some point you’ve got to win there,” forward Mikael Backlund said. “Things are going to happen if you play well and I think this year we haven’t played a good full 60 minutes there. If we find a way to play a real solid 60 minutes we have a chance to win.”
Added Mason Raymond: “That building has been a struggle for us, but we know we can go down there and get a win. And that's the biggest thing is the belief that we can do that.”
The belief is strong.
After all, Calgary has come back plenty of times before.
The Flames led the NHL with 13 wins in the regular season when trailing after the first period and finished third when trailing after 40 minutes. They’ve added three more of the latter in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It’s a different type of comeback they’re looking for, but Hartley suggests his team has plenty of shock left in them.
“There’s a full belief and my message is ‘shock the hockey world’,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do every day and it’s nothing new to us. Its just rewind and press play.
“When you coach good people good people never quit. That has been the story of this team. There’s no quit. We have a whole community behind us. We’re very proud to represent them and we want to have more hockey at the Saddledome.”
The players share that sentiment.
“A lot of people had us counted out a lot of times this year, and we've proven them wrong,” forward Lance Bouma said. “We're just looking to do the same here. Obviously, Anaheim is a great team but I think everybody that is getting on the bus believes we can do it.”
It was a month between games for Bouma, but the Flames forward felt like he had plenty of bounce in Game 4.
“Condition-wise, I felt great,” he said. “Obviously, the timing was a little bit off but I thought as the game went on, I got better and better. You're kind of running on adrenaline, too. It's nice to be back out there. Obviously, you play for playoff hockey. I felt good out there. Hopefully, I can just continue that.”
Bouma missed the final two games of the regular season and the opening seven of the playoffs after sustaining an injury blocking a shot on April 7.
NOTES: Hartley named Karri Ramo his starter for Game 5…The Flames didn’t practice before flying to Anaheim on Saturday.