VANCOUVER, BC -- The split isn’t enough.
The Calgary Flames are guaranteed to head home with an even series in the Western Conference First Round matchup against the Vancouver Canucks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to let up.
The Flames will head into Game 2 (8 p.m. MT, CBC, SN960) looking to leave Vancouver up two games in the best-of-7 set.
“It’s huge,” centre Mikael Backlund said. “2-0 is way better than a tie. I don’t think anyone in here is satisfied. We had alumni come in from the ’89 Cup and told us to never be too high or too low. That’s something we’ve got to do. We’ve got to try and stay even throughout this whole journey.
“I think we’ve been very good at, when we’re losing that we haven’t had many losing streaks, we’ve been getting out of it pretty quickly. Same thing when we’re winning. We’re staying pretty even and we’re not getting too high on ourselves. We’ve still been working for the next game.”
There is room for improvement from Game 1, though, a 2-1 win that saw Kris Russell spin a shot by Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack with 29.6 seconds remaining to take an early series lead.
There’s plenty to iron out, goaltender Jonas Hiller suggested.
“I thought that we were a little nervous there in the first,” said Hiller, who made 29 saves and was named the game’s first star. “We took a few penalties because of emotions. We probably didn’t play our strongest games, but that’s expected with the young group we have. The longer the game went, the more comfortable we felt out there. The more we were able to take charge of the game, I hope we can start where we left off in the third.”
That up penalty trouble, which saw rookies Sam Bennett, Michael Ferland and Johnny Gaudreau serve miscellaneous minors before the midway mark of the game, was a particular target of coach Bob Hartley.
“We got caught in penalties where we were maybe trying to do too much or where we were probably too excited,” coach Bob Hartley said. “I’ll take the blame for this. Three young players playing their first NHL playoff game so it’s quite understandable. We’re cranking those players to go hard every game. That’s one aspect.
“Number two, we know the Canucks will be pushing hard. This is an organization with tremendous character, great history, they’ll want to win this game. It’s going to be a long series, seven games. We need to be ready. We need to be better and I really believe we can be better.”
If they can be, the Flames could find themselves up 2-0 heading back to Calgary.
It’s where they’d prefer to be.
“At the end you’ve got to win four games, so the quicker you can do it, the better,” Hiller said. “We are definitely going to go out there and try to win the game, not just to go out there an be satisfied that we won one on the road. I think every game is going to be tight.
“The little details are going to make the difference. I really hope that we can find away to take advantage again and find a way to win.”
“I think in the playoffs, every team is going to get better. You know the opponent better with every game you play against them. You always feel that you have to step it up to be on the same level as the other team. I’m sure Vancouver is going to come out and they know there is a lot on the line for them. At the same time, we aren’t satisfied with the win in first game and we want to win four. The quicker we can do it, the better.”
FLAMES PROJECTED LINEUP
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler
Sam Bennett - Mikael Backlund - Joe Colborne
Michael Ferland - Matt Stajan - David Jones
Brandon Bollig - Markus Granlund - Josh Jooris
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland
David Schlemko - Corey Potter
Hartley is expected to use the same lineup that was victorious in Game 1.
Forwards Paul Byron (lower body), Lance Bouma (upper body), and defenceman Raphael Diaz (undisclosed) are day-to-day. Defencemen Mark Giordano (torn biceps) and Ladislav Smid (neck) are on the injured reserve list.
Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Canucks will be broadcast on CBC (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio). Game time is 8:00 PM MT. Channel numbers for Telus, Shaw, and Bell users can be found on the Broadcast Schedule page.
The Calgary Flames official Twitter account (@NHLFlames) will be live-tweeting the game and providing pre and post-game content. Fans can also follow along on the Flames official Instagram account (@NHLFlames) for exclusive, behind-the-scenes content. Use the hashtags #NeverQuit and #VANvsCGY.
The Calgary Flames official app is another way to follow along with the action, with goal and period summary notifications. The app is free and available to download on iTunes and Google Play.