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Flames defeat Canucks, one win from advancing

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames are on the verge of advancing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

With a 3-1 win Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome, the Flames have a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series and a chance to win it in Game 5 at Rogers Arena on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; CBC, CNBC, TVA Sports).

"I have the utmost confidence in our players that we'll be ready," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "We always say that the fourth one is the toughest one to win. It's not going to be different. It's two great Canadian markets, two great hockey clubs. Let's drop the puck and see what's going to happen in that game."

Calgary has made it to the second round once since winning the Stanley Cup in 1989, in 2004 when the Flames lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Jonas Hiller, who made 28 saves, said he isn't looking past Game 5.

"I don't think that far ahead," he said. "We still have to win one game, and normally the fourth one is the toughest one to win. We definitely want to do it as quick as possible. We kind of worry about winning the next one and then we look ahead after that."

The teams split the first two games in Vancouver.

"We go back home and we're a confident group when we've faced elimination before," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "The last one's the toughest one to win, so we go back home and we put everything we can into that one, try to get that game and then put the pressure back on them."

The Flames didn't waste time picking up where they left off in Game 3, a 4-2 win, thanks in large part to their power play.

With Ronalds Kenins in the penalty box for boarding Sam Bennett, Dennis Wideman and Jiri Hudler worked a give-and-go below the goal line before Wideman fed a cross-slot pass to Johnny Gaudreau waiting on the back door. Gaudreau scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal on Eddie Lack 3:23 into the game.

"I was waiting for it," Gaudreau said. "The first two, three games I had chances I couldn't bury. It was nice just to get that first one. …

"My first NHL goal, we were down 4-0 and it was the last game of the (2013-14) season and we were out of playoffs. Now it's playoffs, first goal of the game, get us the lead. I think that one tops it, for sure."

The goal was matched by Henrik Sedin's first of the 2015 playoffs less than five minutes later. On the power play, Sedin's shot glanced off the leg of a sprawled Kris Russell before sneaking between Hiller's legs at 8:12 to make it 1-1.

But with another man-advantage, Hudler deflected Wideman's one-timer over Lack's shoulder 1:08 later to restore Calgary's one-goal lead. The goal was Hudler's first of the playoffs.

Calgary built on it with 41.3 seconds remaining in the period. After breaking out of the Flames end, TJ Brodie fed Joe Colborne before taking a return pass and snapping a shot that banked off Bennett and behind Lack to put Calgary up 3-1.

The goals came on seven shots, and Vancouver replaced Lack with Ryan Miller to start the second period.

"It just wasn't my night," Lack said. "The first two went in, two goals on four shots. Then you start over-challenging. You want it so much, but goaltending doesn't work that way.

"Take today, be mad, be a little bit [ticked] off, then come back to work tomorrow and prepare for Game 5."

Miller helped stabilize the Canucks with six saves; Hiller had to make three in the scoreless period.

Vancouver matched that output in the first three minutes of the third. After the Canucks' fifth shot, coming at 5:13, they went nearly 10 minutes without another as the Flames tightened up to protect the two-goal lead.

Vancouver's next shot came with 5:36 remaining, one of Hiller's 15 saves in the third period.

"We knew they were going to be coming in the third," Hiller said. "I think we did a really good job to keep them on the outside. I thought I made a couple good saves and I think that's needed. The effort was definitely there, from the first minute.

"We found a way to play with that lead and not give up too much."

Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows was transported from the arena in an ambulance following the morning skate and did not play. He was to remain in Calgary overnight, the Canucks said.

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