The Calgary Flames made a name for themselves this season with their third-period comebacks.
So it was fitting, then, that they won their first playoff series in 11 years in that very fashion.
Calgary beat Vancouver 7-4 on Saturday in Game 6 of their opening-round matchup, winning the series four games to two. The dramatic, come-from-behind win came after the Flames erased the Canucks’ 3-0 first-period lead, then rallied again in the third, much to the delight of a delirious Saddledome crowd.
“What a comeback, look at this crowd,” Flames head coach Bob Hartley said afterward. “We’re a big team, 20 [players] on the bench, but this crowd is unbelievable and those guys are just amazing.”
The series was bookended by comebacks. Calgary also won Game 1 courtesy a third-period rally, scoring the deciding marker with 30 seconds left.
Tonight’s heroics happened a bit earlier than in Game 1, though not by much. Matt Stajan scored the game-winner with under five minutes left, snapping home a wrister above the shoulder of Ryan Miller:
Stajan’s goal came after Jiri Hudler evened the score at four early in the frame, capitalizing on the power play after an interference call on Canucks forward Brandon McMillan.
Prior to Calgary’s third-period magic, the game was a dramatic affair. Vancouver looked to be in cruise control in the first after scoring three goals in just over seven minutes, but the Flames quickly replied with three goals of their own, including two in under five minutes from Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau early in the second period.
Shortly after the Flames tied things up, Luca Sbisa scored his first goal of the playoffs to give Vancouver a 4-3 edge, which it’d carry into the third — paving the way for Stajan to become the man of the night.
“We’ve worked so hard all year,” Stajan said after the game. “To come back like we have all year, it feels so good. We deserve it. We never back down. We’ll enjoy this, but we don’t want to stop. We want to keep going now.”
“We just felt in our room that we were going to come back. We found a way. That’s what we’ve done all year.”
As mentioned above, the win moves Calgary into the second round for the first time since 2004 — the same year they made it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, before losing to Tampa Bay. The Flames will now take on Anaheim in Round 2.
As for the Canucks, losing the series — and the way they lost — has to be viewed as a major disappointment. While the club did well to bounce-back from last year’s disastrous campaign and make the playoffs, Vancouver failed to win a game on the road, saw its second-ranked penalty kill surrender five power-play goals over the series and lacked the killer instinct to put Calgary away in Games 1 and 6.
“The first couple of games, I felt we could’ve taken both at home,” a dejected Henrik Sedin said afterward. “[But] they came home tied 1-1.”
Of course, the Flames would argue they’re just not the kind of team you just put away.
Comebacks are kind of their thing.
Karri Ramo replaced Jonas Hiller in the first period and fared well, stopping 17 of 19 shots… Miller finished with 26 saves on 31 shots… The Flames potted a pair of empty-net goals, which inflated their stat totals a bit, but still got great production from Stajan, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, David Jones, Michael Ferland (three points each) and Jiri Hudler, who finished with four…Jannik Hansen led all Canuck scorers with two points; Vancouver got points from 10 different skaters.