Flames Win Series 4-2
The goalies were flawless and both teams did a good job of clearing away dangerous rebounds, until 19:13 of overtime. That's when Red Wings' goalie Curtis Joseph made a nice save off a Jarome Iginla shot, only to be let down by his team mates. As they watched, Craig Conroy shovelled the rebound across the crease, where Martin Gelinas waited to tap it home.
An upset? To be sure. But the Flames had the NHL's 3rd-best defensive team this season, and are now reaping the rewards. In terms of sticking to your game plan, Calgary is this year's most consistent playoff team. Iginla and Kiprusoff get the headlines, but you could argue that this series was won by Calgary's young defense, painstakingly assembled through years of drafting and trading.
For the second straight year, the Red Wings are left to wonder where the big offense went to die. The NHL's highest scoring team scored a total of three goals in four losses to Calgary. Their power play was terrible throughout the series. In this game they were outshot 44-39 and managed just three shots in the third period. Another disturbing stat: the Red Wings have lost 11 of their last 13 playoff overtime games.
Game Five: Flames 1 - Red Wings 0 (Flames lead series 3-2)
Yes, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff made big saves against the big shooters; and no team wins a 1-0 game without a little luck. But on the basis of overall play, Calgary deserved this one. Only in the last ten minutes, with Detroit getting desperate, did the Flames really lean on their goalie. Even then, the Red Wings rarely saw a rebound.
The only goal came when Jarome Iginla fed the puck to a wide-open Craig Conroy, who neatly drilled it into the top corner. When attempting similar big plays, the Detroit stars often find themselves stapled to the boards or stripped of the puck. It's getting hard to tell which team is the would-be dynasty and which is the low-budget underdog. Further bad news for Detroit: Steve Yzerman did not return after taking a hard shot in the face.
Game Four: Red Wings 4 - Flames 2 (series tied 2-2)
Detroit made this one difficult by squandering a comfortable 2-0 lead in the second period. Martin Gelinas and Ville Niemenen scored 18 seconds apart to pull Calgary even, and the Flames threatened to take the lead several times after that.
A more composed Red Wings team emerged in the third period. Sustained pressure resulted in Boyd Devereaux's winning goal, and Henrik Zetterberg scored into the empty net. This was the most even game of the series, and you have to wonder if Calgary's best chance has slipped away with this loss.
Game Three: Flames 3 - Red Wings 2 (Flames lead series 2-1)
For two periods, at least, Calgary resembled the team that beat Vancouver in round one. Dogged forechecking and churning legs pushed the Red Wings back, producing an ugly goal by Stephane Yelle and a nice one by Shean Donovan. Jarome Iginla scored on the power play, and the Flames had their 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.
The third period was a Red Wings' shooting gallery. But they missed the net a lot, and Miikka Kiprusoff made a dozen saves, as Calgary escaped with the win and the series lead.
Game Two: Red Wings 5 - Flames 2 (series tied 1-1)
Who knows what kind of team the Red Wings will be when they can no longer turn to Steve Yzerman? Detroit's captain for the ages turned in another vintage performance with a pair of goals. Yzerman played with Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby, which opened scoring chances that did not exist in game one. Detroit's moribund power play also stirred, scoring three goals, two of them during 5-on-3 advantages late in the game.
The Flames would not have won this game in any case. But it did not help that defenseman Rhett Warrener left this game with an eye injury. If he does not play game three, Calgary will be without three of its top six defensemen, as well as three of its best forwards.
Game One: Flames 2 Red Wings 1 (OT) (Flames lead series 1-0)
Just the way Darryl Sutter planned it, perhaps? The Calgary coach surely knew his team would have to survive an early Detroit blitzkreig. The Flames did, as goalie Miikka Kiprusoff helped them emerge from a one-sided first period in a scoreless tie. Then it was a matter of playing defense, hoping for the best and waiting for a chance. Marcus Nilson got that chance at 2:39 of overtime, when he was abandoned in front of the net and flicked Martin Gelinas' pass over the shoulder of goalie Curtis Joseph.
"We got lucky, we stole this one," said Calgary center Craig Conroy. True, but Detroit let them get lucky. After their ferocious first period did not deliver results, the Red Wings slacked off a little. The rest of the game was fairly even, which favors the luckier team.
Red Wings vs. Flames: Series Preview
Stanley Cup 2004: Second Round Schedule and Results at a Glance