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GAME: Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks.

PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; tied 3-3.

TIME: Monday, 10:30 p.m. EDT.

The Vancouver Canucks' season has been anything but easy for the past month. Apparently, they're enjoying the challenge.

After forcing a seventh game in their first-round series against the Calgary Flames with a triple-overtime win, the Canucks look to advance to the Western Conference semifinals when the teams settle matters at GM Place.

Facing elimination after losses in Games 4 and 5, Vancouver came to the Pengrowth Saddledome on Saturday night looking to keep its season alive. The Canucks got it done the hard way, blowing a 4-0 second-period lead before finally earning a 5-4 win on Brendan Morrison's goal 2:28 into the third extra period.

Morrison skated to the front of Calgary's net and outwaited Miikka Kiprusoff, who stopped 47 shots, before sliding the puck past the goalie's blocker to send the series back to Vancouver.

"Being in the right spot at the right time," said Morrison, who ended the longest game in Vancouver history. "We did what we wanted to do. We stayed alive. Now we have to go out and win the next one."

Doing that would mark the continued revival of a Canucks team that was in disarray following the indefinite suspension of Todd Bertuzzi. The star forward severely injured Colorado's Steve Moore when he attacked him during a game March 8.

The Canucks went 1-3-2-1 in the first seven games after Bertuzzi was banned, but then put together a seven-game winning streak, passing Colorado for the Northwest Division title and third seed in the West playoffs.

Vancouver again exhibited its refusal to quit Saturday night after Oleg Saprykin, Ville Nieminen, Martin Gelinas and Chris Clark scored four straight goals for Calgary over the second and third periods. Clark's goal tied it with 7:04 remaining in regulation.

Calgary nearly completed its stunning comeback twice in extra time. Gelinas had a breakaway early in the second overtime, but Canucks goalie Alex Auld stopped the forward with a poke check. Halfway through the period, Nieminen fired a wrist shot off the crossbar.

"I felt like both teams were getting some chances," Canucks captain Trevor Linden said. "Both teams had opportunities to end it. They hit a crossbar and we missed the net a few times, but it's overtime and that's the way it goes."

Calgary coach Darryl Sutter knows it could have just as easily gone the other way, and is aware of what his team needs to do as it tries a second time to finish off Vancouver.

"I think we showed a tremendous amount of determination and character tonight," Sutter said. "It's kind of an attrition deal right now. You just try to hang on."

Jarkko Ruutu, Daniel Sedin, Brad May and Geoff Sanderson also scored for the Canucks.

For the Flames to win their first playoff series since defeating Montreal in the 1989 Stanley Cup finals, they'll have to solve Auld. With starting goaltender Dan Cloutier out with a sprained ankle sustained in Game 3, Canucks coach Marc Crawford pulled a surprise in Game 5, bypassing backup Johan Hedberg and giving Auld the start.

Auld made 18 saves in a 2-1 loss in that contest Thursday, then was steady in stopping 17 shots in extra time Saturday night. He finished with 36 saves.

The Flames will have to overcome some daunting recent history to advance. They've gone 0-7 since 1991 when they've had a chance to win a series.

Calgary is 4-4 all-time in Game 7s, while Vancouver is 4-3.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Flames - 94 points; 6th seed. Canucks - 101 points; 3rd seed.

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Jarome Iginla, 3 goals and 5 points; Robyn Regehr, 4 assists; Nieminen and Clark, 10 PIM. Canucks - Morrison, Markus Naslund and Henrik Sedin, 2 goals; Naslund, 5 assists and 7 points; Mattias Ohlund, 13 PIM.

PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Flames - Power play: 11.4 percent (4 for 35). Penalty killing: 76.5 percent (26 for 34). Canucks - Power play: 23.5 percent (8 for 34). Penalty killing: 88.6 percent (31 for 35).

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Kiprusoff (3-3, 1 SO, 2.09 GAA); Roman Turek (no appearances). Canucks - Auld (1-1, 2.22); Hedberg (1-1, 2.45).

Associated Press
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