CALGARY -- Prior to the start of the Calgary-San Jose first round playoff series, Flames captain Jarome Iginla was asked if there was one specific key to victory over the seven game joust.
After some thought Iginla pinpointed special teams. "Always special teams," he said. That became very evident in Game 2 as the Sharks spent more than 16 minutes with the man advantage in claiming a 2-0 win and tying the series at a game a piece heading into Sunday night's game at the Pengrowth Saddledome (8 p.m., CBC and The Fan 960).
The Sharks registered a total of 21 of their 43 shots on goal with the man advantage but were just 1-10. That's a huge tribute to the penalty-killing units who worked extremely hard in Game 2. The penalty kill was one of the big positives coming out of the Game 2 loss. "We couldn't have done any better," said head coach Mike Keenan.
Needless to say, the Flames will look to keep some of their aggression in check while continuing to play a tough, hard-nosed brand of hockey against the Sharks. "We have to play hard but we have to play smart," noted defenceman Jim Vandermeer. "Guys are disapointed in the way we lost. We beat ourselves."
"We are at our best as a team when we stay out of the box," said Iginla. And that is true. Five-on-five the shots on goal and the scoring chances were fairy even in Game 2 at the Shark Tank. The Flames put 15 of their 21 shots on goalie Evgeni Nabokov while playing with five skaters each. The Sharks had 17 shots five-on-five. Interestingly, neither team scored five-on-five. The Sharks first goal of the game was in a four-on-four situation and the second came at the end of six straight penalties to Calgary.
After just two games, the physicality of the series has also gained momentum. The Sharks and Flames combined for 31 hits in Game 2 and San Jose was doing all it could to get to the Flames net and bother Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. Defebceman Dion Phaneuf, charged with keeping Sharks away from the crease responded with a game-high six belts on Shark players.