-- A few bumps and bruises forced the Flames to get creative with their defensemen in Game 3 against Detroit - and it worked out just fine for Calgary.
The Flames are prepared to do whatever it takes again in Game 4 on Thursday night to get a second consecutive victory against the top-seeded Red Wings and even up their best-of-seven series.
The Flames tapped into their depth and moved defensemen from one side of the ice to the other in their 3-2 victory in Game 3. Still, Calgary's defensive performance was better than it had been in either of the first two games of the series in Detroit.
"I think our defense are capable of playing left side and right side, which is an important factor when you get down to five because that's what's going to happen," Flames coach Jim Playfair said.
"And more importantly, it's playoff hockey, so suck it up."
Here's the rundown of Calgary's aches and pains:
- Rhett Warrener took a puck in the face late in the first period of Game 3
- Robyn Regehr was out with a knee injury and remains questionable for Thursday.
- Dion Phaneuf needed stitches after a hard hit by Detroit's Dan Cleary early in the third.
|A Henrik Zetterberg shot popped Rhett Warrener in the face early in Game 3. (Tim Smith/Getty Images) |
Both Warrener and Phaneuf returned to the game and will play Thursday.
Giordano, Regehr's replacement, scored in his NHL debut to tie the game while Phaneuf was getting his face stitched. Andrei Zyuzin also saw his ice time increase with a depleted defensive corps.
Defensemen had unfamiliar partners and switched from right to left side, yet the Flames managed to cut the number of shots on goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff dramatically from the 97 he faced in the opening two games of the series.
With Regehr's status up in the air, Giordano may find himself playing an important role again.
"Every guy, if you're in the lineup or out of the lineup, it's a long playoff and there's going to be opportunities, so everyone has got to be ready," Flames winger Craig Conroy said.
When Calgary reached the Stanley Cup final in 2004, the Flames' also had to draw on their depth on defense because of injuries.
"I think 2004 taught us you need eight or nine guys who can step in and play," Playfair said. "A guy like Mark Giordano coming in is what we expect. We expect to have injuries and we expect him to come in and be good."
While Calgary's defense tightened up against Detroit on Tuesday, Playfair wants to further limit shots against.
"I think 30 is too many so we're preparing today to cut that back down," he said.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock looks for a stronger start in the game and better performances from the Wings' special teams, which were held scoreless on four power-play chances and gave up two power-play goals.
"I didn't think our team was very good early," Babcock said. "We had three power-plays before we even got playing and we did nothing with them.
"Our power play has to be better and it's going to have to get us results. We lost the special teams battle 2-0 yesterday."
The Flames may be the toughest team in the NHL to beat in their own building, but the Red Wings still have the upperhand in this series.
"We're still in a desperate situation," Calgary winger Alex Tanguay said. "We can't afford to go down 3-1 with Detroit playing Game 5 and Game 7 in their building."
It looked like the series would be over quickly after the first two games. Babcock wants Calgary's newfound confidence to be short-lived.
"You never want to give the other team momentum," he said. "They were able to seize their first game at home and now they're trying to hold serve.
"It's up to us tomorrow to be better, so we can leave here with a split."