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GAME: Calgary Flames at Tampa Bay Lightning.

PLAYOFF SERIES: Stanley Cup finals; Flames lead 1-0.

TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EDT.

Playing on the road does not bother the Calgary Flames. In fact, there doesn't seem to be anything that can get them off their game right now.

Coming off a dominant performance in the opener of the Stanley Cup finals, the Flames look for more of the same when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Another impressive showing from captain Jarome Iginla and another strong performance from Miikka Kiprusoff helped the Flames to a 4-1 victory in Game 1 on Tuesday.

Iginla continued to stake his claim as the leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy, scoring his playoff-leading 11th goal short-handed while playing a huge role in Calgary's effective penalty killing.

Iginla has goals in four straight games and has registered a point in 10 of his last 11 contests.

"That short-handed goal was the difference for us," Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. "That was a huge goal, a second-effort goal. He had everything going."

Martin Gelinas scored on Calgary's first shot of the game and Stephane Yelle and Chris Simon also had goals for the Flames, winners of five straight road playoff games.

At 9-2, Calgary is one road win shy of tying the 1995 and 2000 New Jersey Devils - both Stanley Cup champions - as the only NHL teams with 10 road wins in one playoff season.

"On the road, it seems like we're closer and our focus is really good," Yelle said. "I think it's just our preparation on the road. It has been good all season long. When we're on the road, it seems like we're closer and our focus is really good."

Having already stolen the home-ice advantage from the Lightning, the Flames could take a 2-0 lead back home for the second consecutive series. They won both games at San Jose in the conference finals, only to lose Games 3 and 4 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Martin St. Louis scored a power-play goal in the third period for Tampa Bay, which finds itself trailing in a series for the first time this postseason.

"We don't want to go to Calgary down 2-0," Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk said. "It wouldn't be the end of the world, but we probably could see it."

Fast starts have been one of the keys to Calgary's surprising postseason success and that trend continued Tuesday with Gelinas' early goal.

The Flames have a 10-4 scoring advantage in the first period during the playoffs and are 11-1 when they score first. They haven't allowed a first-period goal in an NHL-record nine straight playoff games.

Kiprusoff finished with 23 saves, but faced very few difficult scoring chances as his team built a 3-0 lead after two periods.

"We feel like when we're ahead we can play our game," Gelinas said. "We've been pretty lucky to get some lucky bounces and get the first goal. After that, we just play our defensive game."

Production from their power play is one reason whey the Lightning advanced to the finals for the first time in their history. In Game 1, however, that unit failed to convert on its first three opportunities and registered only one shot. The Flames, meanwhile, had a short-handed, odd-man rush on each infraction.

Tampa Bay converted 39 percent of its power-play chances in the final six games of the conference finals against Philadelphia, scoring on nine of 23 opportunities.

"Our power play has to get back to where it was against the Flyers," Andreychuk said. "We got some shots through against them and won some battles. We have to do that again."

Though it's only one game, the Flames already have history on their side. Teams that take Game 1 of the finals go on to win the Stanley Cup 78.5 percent (51-of-65) of the time.

The series shifts to Calgary for Game 3 on Saturday.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Flames - 6th seed; beat Vancouver Canucks 4-3, West quarterfinals; beat Detroit Red Wings 4-2, West semifinals; beat San Jose Sharks 4-2, West finals. Lightning - 1st seed; beat New York Islanders 4-1, East quarterfinals; beat Montreal Canadiens 4-0, East semifinals; beat Philadelphia Flyers 4-3, East finals.

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla, 11 goals and 18 points; Craig Conroy, 11 assists; Simon, 53 PIM. Lightning - Vincent Lecavalier and Ruslan Fedotenko, 9 goals; St. Louis, 13 assists and 19 points; Andre Roy, 42 PIM.

PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Flames - Power play: 11.4 percent (10 for 88). Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (77 for 92). Lightning - Power play: 21.1 percent (15 for 71). Penalty killing: 89.3 percent (50 for 56).

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Kiprusoff (13-7, 4 SO, 1.86 GAA); Roman Turek (0-0, 0.00). Lightning - Nikolai Khabibulin (12-5, 4, 1.79); John Grahame (0-0, 3.64).

REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Lightning, 1-0. St. Louis, who split his first two NHL seasons between the Flames and the minors before signing with the Lightning in July 2000, had three goals and an assist to lead Tampa Bay to a 6-2 victory Jan. 24 at the Pengrowth Saddledome. Lecavalier added three assists for the Lightning.

Associated Press
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