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Can't say Calgary fans don't take the game seriously!


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Flames douse Lightning


By Kevin Allen, USA TODAY


CALGARY — The Calgary Flames have set tongues a wagging these days, and not just the two cow tongues that were hurled onto the ice as part of a new and bizarre pregame fan ritual. Cowtown is abuzz about its Flames and the "Sea of Red" had a lot to shout about after the hometown team humbled the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 Saturday thanks to a shutout from goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. With the win, the Flames claimed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals.


"Every single player was ready physically for this game," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla who in Game 3 recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick: a goal, an assist and a fight.


In the first period, Iginla tangled with Tampa Bay's Vinny Lecavalier, who is not usually a fighter. It was presumed Lecavalier was willing to fight because he was trying to stir up his team, but the Flames say they drew energy from the battle of the superstars that essentially ended in a draw.


"That fight was huge — because it set a physical tone for us and we had talked about that before the game," said Chris Simon, who scored a power play goal and added an assist on Iginla's third-period goal.


Kiprusoff posted 21 saves to record his fifth shutout of the playoffs, but this shutout could be attributed as much to the team as it could be to the goaltender. The Flames scrapped, hit and annoyed the Lightning for 60 minutes and only allowed a smattering of first-rate scoring chances.


Defensive proficiency has been a staple of the Flames during the postseason. They are now 10-0 in the playoffs when they take a lead into the third period.


"They are a hard-working team and for us to win this series we are going to have to outwork them," said Tampa Bay captain Dave Andreychuk.


Kiprusoff did have to make some crucial saves, including stopping a breakaway by Brad Richards. Kiprusoff is now 7-1 with a .953 save percentage in games following a loss in these playoffs.


"You could talk about Kipper on almost every play — he's awesome," said Shean Donovan who scored Calgary's second goal.


The two teams combined for only seven shots in the first period, and the Flames held Tampa Bay to just 11 shots in the first 40 minutes.


"For the first 30 minutes there was no skillful play whatsoever — it was just physical play," said Flames winger Martin Gelinas.


Lecavalier said the Flames "were first on the puck all the time."


"We weren't as aggressive (as Calgary)," Lecavalier said. "We weren't as strong. We didn't win the battles. But we are very determined and will come back for Game 4 and be ready to play and we'll get a win."


Calgary came into the series as a team struggling on the power play. Although the Flames don't always look pretty with the man advantage, they have netted four power play goals in this series and have scored at least one in every game.


The Flames also did a solid job of harnessing Tampa Bay's scoring line, holding Lecavalier, Ruslan Fedotenko and Martin St. Louis to a total of four shots.


Making the night even worse for Tampa Bay, forward Fedotenko was helped off the ice after cutting his right cheekbone while being slammed into the boards by Robyn Regehr with about six minutes remaining. Fedotenko, who has 10 playoff goals, looked dazed when he left the ice.


The city of Calgary has been consumed by Flames mania. Flames sweaters are the uniform of the day throughout the city, and intermittent car honking could be heard all day in the downtown area.


The cow-tongue throwing appears to be a playoff ritual following along the lines of Detroit Red Wings fans throwing octopi on the ice. Remember the Florida Panthers fans throwing toy rats in 1996?


The Flames, who upset three division champions to reach the Finals, still aren't behaving like an underdog. This was particularly true in the second period of Game 3 when they took command of the game while outshooting No. 1-seeded Tampa Bay 12-6.


Simon scored at 13:53 putting his own rebound past Lightning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. Just over three minutes later, Shean Donovan scored the crucial second goal just seconds after the Lightning were pressing for the tying goal.


Lecavalier was stationed behind the net and tried to pass the puck out in front when it slid directly to Donovan. One of the swiftest skaters in the Finals, Donovan raced down the ice and ripped a shot over Khabibulin's shoulder to make it a 2-0 game at 17:09.


Notes: Calgary has won two straight at the Saddledome and is 5-5 at home. Tampa Bay is 5-3 on the road, with three straight losses. ... Teams winning Game 3 of a tied series have won 21 of 24 finals. ... Tampa Bay's streak of scoring a power play goal in eight consecutive games ended. ... Calgary failed to allow a first-period goal for the 10th time in 11 games. ... Simon was traded to Calgary by the Rangers in early March.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Speaking as a Calgary resident, I can honestly say that the Calgary Flames 03/04 playoff run was one of the most fun things I have experienced. The whole city is alive with car flags, red shirts and Flames logos EVERYWHERE!

I promised people that if they won I'd name my first-born child Miikka.

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