CALGARY, Alberta (AP) _ When Dan Cloutier limped off the ice near the end of
the first period, the Vancouver Canucks had no choice. They had to turn to
backup goalie Johan Hedberg.
Hedberg then turned in a solid performance, stopping 19 shots in a 2-1
victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night. The win gave the Canucks a 2-1
first-round series lead, with Game 4 set for here on Tuesday night.
Vancouver coach Marc Crawford said Hedberg was able to get mentally prepared
to play after the first period.
``I think he knew he was going to be the guy, obviously,'' Crawford said,
``and that helps, too, because you're not wondering if the goalie's coming back
in the game or not. He knew he was going to get the ball and he ran with it
Late in the scoreless opening period, Cloutier stopped a shot by Calgary's
Oleg Saprykin. But as the puck rebounded out front, Cloutier appeared to wrench
his knee scrambling to reach it.
Cloutier's condition was termed a ``lower body injury'' by the team. But the
goaltender was helped off the ice and did not return. Third-stringer Alex Auld
appeared on the bench early in the second period.
After letting in the one goal, Hedberg, who was dealt to Vancouver from the
Pittsburgh Penguins last summer, was unbeatable.
As rookie in 2002, Hedberg started all 18 games for the Penguins and they
went to the Eastern Conference final before losing to New Jersey.
``That run with Pittsburgh has really helped me throughout my career,'' said
Hedberg. ``I draw on that experience all the time. You've been there once, you
know what it's about, how long the series are, not to get too high or too
Calgary defenseman Andrew Ference said his team has plenty of respect for
``We're not licking our chops,'' he said. ``He's a great goalie and we're
just going to have to do the same things: drive the net, shoot the puck lots
and just focus more on our team than who's in their net.''
Matt Cooke's third-period goal won it.
Cooke, playing on Vancouver's top line with Markus Naslund and Brendan
Morrison since the start of the playoffs, replacing the suspended Todd
Bertuzzi, put the Canucks ahead at 1:29 of the third period.
``Anytime you play with guys that skilled, it's so much fun,'' said Cooke.
``I just wanted to drive through and maybe create an opening,'' Cooke said
of his winning goal off a pass from Morrison. ``I just poked it with the toe of
my stick and it got ahead of me. I just caught up with it and tried to get it
on net as fast as I could.''
Hedberg faced a rough welcome into the game, letting in his second shot just
1:04 into the second period. Calgary's Chris Simon scored his second goal of
the playoffs, converting a goalmouth pass from Jarome Iginla.
But the Canucks, who have not lost in 10 consecutive games at the Calgary
Saddledome, were quick to counter a minute later with their sixth power-play
goal of the series.
Naslund popped a wide rebound past Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff following
a hard slap shot by defenseman Ed Jovanovski.
It was Calgary's first home playoff contest in eight years. And the fans
turned up in force. The sellout crowd of 19,289, most of them adorned in Flames
red, was deafening throughout the game, encouraged by a new, $1-million power
ring installed at the Saddledome in time for the playoffs.
Ference said the Flames are not disappointed by their effort Sunday night.
``Of course you want to win, but it's a seven-game series and as a team
we're focused on the long-term goal, and that's to win four games,'' he said.
``It was a great hockey game out there, it was a close battle and one shift we
turned the puck over and they put it in.''