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Flames come back to bite Sharks

by Brian Compton

Curtis Joseph relieved Miikka Kiprusoff after he let in three goals on five shots. Curtis Joseph highlights
A few thoughts before I call AAA for Britney Spears:

Never Say Die – It took less than four minutes for everyone to be under the impression the Calgary Flames were in deep trouble.

Three minutes and 33 seconds into the first period Sunday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Mike Keenan's club found itself trailing by three goals. Miikka Kiprusoff had made just two saves on five shots. The home-ice advantage the Flames had gained by earning a split in their first two games at San Jose was about to be wiped out.

After Douglas Murray gave the Sharks a 3-0 lead, Keenan pulled Kiprusoff in favor of Curtis Joseph. The veteran netminder then stopped all 22 shots he faced, as the Flames were able to rally for an improbable 4-3 win against the Sharks to take a 2-1 series lead.

Never say die.

"Thank goodness our team rallied," Joseph said. "We really picked up our game after a shaky start. I'm just happy we won."

Thank goodness our team rallied. We really picked up our game after a shaky start. I'm just happy we won. - Curtis Joseph
Game 4 is slated for Tuesday night in Calgary. If the Sharks perform the way they did in the final 56 minutes of Sunday night's loss, that phenomenal run they had over the final month of the regular season will mean about as much as Milli Vanilli's Grammy award.

"They got a power play and we didn't do a very good job of killing it," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "They scored on their two power plays and in the third period we made a couple of turnovers in our own end. The wingers didn't get the puck out in simple situations, and it came back to haunt us. It was very basic. Those are preventable mistakes. Unfortunately, we made them."

The only question regarding Game 4 is, who starts in goal for Calgary? If it's Kiprusoff, that would be just fine with Joseph.

"Miikka's the best goalie in the League as far as I'm concerned," Joseph said. "I've been saying that for a few years now. I know my role, and I was glad to help tonight."

Philly Gains Home Ice –
Thanks to some phenomenal goaltending by Martin Biron, the Philadelphia Flyers earned a split with the Washington Capitals with Sunday's 2-0 win against Alex Ovechkin & Co. at the Verizon Center.

Thanks to the stellar goaltending of Martin Biron, the Flyers shut out the Capitals yesterday to even the series at 1-1.
With the series even at 1-1, the Flyers earned that important split on the road and have gained home-ice advantage. Game 3 will take place at the Wachovia Center on Tuesday night.

"Everybody always says you want to split, going on the road, after the first two games," said Biron, who made 24 saves. "We played really well on the road, and now we have to carry that over."

Biron returned to his Grade-A form Sunday after suffering a hiccup in his first Stanley Cup Playoff game Friday night, a 5-4 loss to the Caps. Biron had ended the regular season with back-to-back shutouts.

"He made some big saves early," Flyers center Mike Richards said. "I think three or four of them were point-blank. When a goalie does that, it gives you opportunities and momentum."

Ovechkin certainly tried to create opportunities Sunday for the Capitals, especially early in the game. The Russian superstar received 10 minutes of ice time in the opening period, when he recorded three of his five shots.

"I didn't like how much he played," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He stayed on too long. It's hard when it's Alex. He wants to go so badly. He gets it in his head, 'I can do it,' and most nights he can. He looked a little tired, but he looked a little frustrated as well. He wasn't getting the puck, and they were all on him when he did touch the puck. We've got to give him a chance to have a mediocre game once in a while."
Thirteen Is Enough – It had been more than a year since the Boston Bruins came out on the winning end against the Montreal Canadiens, but Marc Savard's overtime goal Sunday night finally reversed Boston's fortunes.

We got the monkey off our back after 13 losses. This time, Lady Luck was smiling upon us. - Boston Bruins coach, Claude Julien
"We got the monkey off our back after 13 losses," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "This time, Lady Luck was smiling upon us."

Not only did the Bruins get the monkey off their backs, but they gave themselves some life with the victory. Boston – which hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2004 – can even the series with another victory on home ice Tuesday night.

As long as Tim Thomas continues to perform the way he did Sunday, the Bruins have a chance. Thomas finished with 27 saves and made several key stops late to keep his team alive.

"I knew at one point they were going to beat us," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We had a couple of really good chances in overtime, but Thomas played big."

Stayin' Alive – It probably was the flukiest goal John Madden ever has scored in his life, but does it really matter?

Not at all. All that matters as far as the New Jersey Devils are concerned is that they now trail the New York Rangers 2-1 in their best-of-seven series thanks to Madden's pass in front that went off the skate of Blueshirts defenseman Marc Staal and past Henrik Lundqvist at 6:01 of overtime Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

"I'm not going to lie," said Madden. "It was a lot of luck. I thought Sergei (Brylin) might be there, but their guy was standing there. It hit him in the foot and went in. It was real lucky, but we need to get those breaks to get back into the series."

And now the Devils very much are in it. The Rangers will have to regroup before they host Game 4 on Wednesday night. New Jersey can regain home-ice advantage in the series with another victory.

"Those first two games, the lucky breaks went our way," Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr said. "Today it went their way in overtime. Nobody said it was going to be easy. It's going to be hard. We have to take the positive. We're still ahead 2-1.

"Next game, we have to win it. That's the bottom line."

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