Greetings from the Scotiabank Saddledome, where the Flames held an optional practice as they regrouped following the 5-4 overtime loss that gave the Ducks a 3-0 series lead in their first-round playoff matchup. Game 4 will be played Wednesday at the Saddledome.
Flames Coach Glen Gulutzan wouldn’t commit to saying he will start goaltender Brian Elliott, who let in a couple of soft goals in Game 3 that sustained the Ducks’ rally. Gulutzan said to expect a couple of lineup changes, likely to add youth and fresh legs, and he said he told players not to try to win four games in one on Wednesday. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” he said.
The Ducks rallied Monday after falling behind, 4-1, and won 90 seconds into overtime when a shot by Corey Perry deflected off Calgary defenseman Michael Stone and Elliott and into the net. “It could very easily be 2-1, but it isn’t,” Flames forward Kris Versteeg said.
That the Ducks won despite missing defensemen Cam Fowler (knee) and Sami Vatanen (upper-body injury), despite having no power plays and despite allowing Calgary to score three power-play goals is astonishing.
“It definitely wasn’t easy to sleep after a game like that,” said Versteeg, who won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010 and 2015. “They’re a very good team. They have great players who have been there before. … We’re ready for a win. It’s going to take everything, but we’re ready for a win.”
Forward Matthew Tkachuk said players are focusing simply on Game 4, and he used “the pressure is on them” cliché to try to deflect attention away from his own team as it faces elimination.
“Right now, we have nothing to lose. We’re going to be playing hard,” he said. “We’re going to be trying to do everything in our power to send a message and just make them a little bit nervous over there.
“It’s obviously a tough hill to climb, but it’s been done before. In Game 4, hopefully, all the doubt can be on them. We’re in a position where we have nothing to lose right now. We’re going to be playing the way we’ve been playing all year, and that’s hard, and we’re going to try to get a win. I think all the pressure right now can be — I think they’re a team that doesn’t want to be embarrassed by a team that’s down, 3-0, so I think they have some pressure on them.”
Four teams that fell behind, 3-0, in a best-of-seven series have come back to win: the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs against the Detroit Red Wings, the 1974 New York Islanders against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers against the Boston Bruins and the 2014 Kings against San Jose.
Defenseman Mark Giordano also took the one-game-at-a-time approach. “I think we’ve shown that when we play fast, we can create offense, create goals. I think they’ve been better at the momentum swings. At the key moments, they’ve had big-time goals, but we’ve got to look at this shift to shift, game to game now. Down, 3-0, it’s tough to come back, but you try and get that first one and build momentum off that.”
One last note, courtesy of the Ducks via the Canadian TSN network: The game against Calgary was one of four overtime playoff contests in the NHL on Monday. The last time the league had four playoff games go to overtime was April 10, 1985. In one of those games, Calgary led Winnipeg, 4-1, in the second period (as Calgary led the Ducks on Monday) but lost, 5-4, in overtime. A Jets defenseman by the name of Randy Carlyle — now the Ducks’ coach — had an assist in that comeback victory for Winnipeg.