CALGARY, AB -- Goaltender Jonas Hiller has tended twine in a lot of different buildings in a lot of different leagues scattered across a lot of different countries.
And Game 3 at Scotiabank Saddledome, the first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on home ice for the Calgary Flames in six years, felt a lot like home.
“For me, I think it's nice,” Hiller said. “It kind of reminds me of back in Switzerland -- the crowd is going, pretty much, for 60 minutes. It's definitely a big boost and I really hope that it's going to be the same or even louder tomorrow.”
In Vancouver, Hiller was treated to heckles from the Canucks faithful.
They were replaced by cheers in Calgary, and jeers for Eddie Lack, his counterpart.
“You definitely notice them but at the same time, I think it's actually not too bad,” Hiller suggested. “When you hear what people are yelling from the stands in Switzerland, they are way worse. I'm kind of used to it, from that perspective. It's been awhile. Yeah, sure, you notice it but I guess it's part of the game and you have to handle it.”
The crowd at Scotiabank Saddledome gave the Flames a Game 3 advantage.
Calgary is looking to capitalize on home ice again.
After a 4-2 win in Game 3 in the first game on home ice in the first playoff game at the ‘Dome since April 27, 2009, Joe Colborne believes his Flames are ready to repeat Tuesday in the Western Conference First Round against the Vancouver Canucks.
“It’s going to be all about our start,” Colborne said. “They’re going to come out, they know how important game this is, and so do we. It’s going to be another hard fought, physical game and were expecting a lot of the same.
After taking a 1-0 series lead, the Flames let Vancouver control off the start in Game 2.
“We can’t let them come out and be as physical as they were against us in that first period of Game 2,” Colborne said. “I thought that was their best period of the series and maybe that we’ve ever seen them play as a team. It’s going to be nice to come out and have our crowd going and behind us which will be nice. We have to come out and match their intensity.”
With the home crowd, Calgary could trump it, though. Hungry for playoff action, the home faithful provided extra jump for the Flames.
No less is expected in Game 4, which could put the Flames in a commanding 3-1 series lead.
“It’s awesome,” Colborne said. “Some of us are bouncing around all the time anyways, but pretty much the entire team was feeling the energy and we were ready to go right from puck drop.”
ROOKIES FUELING FLAMES
Sam Bennett has a goal, Game 3’s game-winner, and an assist. Michael Ferland has a series-leading 18 hits.
The rookies are two big reasons why Calgary has found some early series success at Vancouver’s expense.
“I knew it was going to take some time for everybody to kind of grow into the playoffs,” Hiller said. “But at the same time, I think a lot of young guys had already taken over lots of leadership in this group during the regular season, especially with having guys out, hurt, so the young guys had to step up.
“At this point, that definitely helps because they already have been in the situation where they have more responsibilities. Now, they can prove it again.”
The Flames have iced five rookies in each of the first three games of the series and six total.
Their rapid development is a reflection on the leadership group.
“Our leadership, our veterans, our dressing room is a very strong dressing room,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “Our young players are unbelievable, but mark Giordano in the background, Matt Stajan, Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell…I hate to mention names because I always forgot some.
“We’re a family. I think that we’re bigger than a team, we’re a close family. We all care about each other, we always pick up each other. For me it’s not surprising, I’m very impressed, but I’m not surprised.”
NOTES: The Flames held an optional skate Monday…The NHL rescinded a one-game suspension to Alexandre Burrows after the Canucks forward received an instigator penalty in the late stages of Game 3.