Flames move to second round as NHL post-season heats up
Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (23) and Vancouver Canucks left wing Chris Higgins (20) battle for the puck during the second period in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Sergei Belski-USA TODAY SportsThe Calgary Flames have advanced to the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs following a 7-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6 of the teams’ first round matchup April 25, winning the best-of-seven series 4-2.
The Flames were forced to weather an early storm, surrendering three goals against in the first ten minutes of the game. “We persevered though. We’re able to move on,” said Calgary forward Matt Stajan, who netted the game-winning goal in the third period for the Flames, who now move on to face the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division final.
Vancouver goals by Brandon McMillan, Jannik Hansen and Radim Vrbata on the powerplay put the home side on their heels early, but Calgary’s top line of Jiri Hudler (four points), Sean Monahan (three points) and rookie Johnny Gaudreau (three points) fueled the comeback.
It was an impressive victory for the upstart Flames, who have found success this season through hard work and perseverance. “We still have a long way to go to climb the mountain, but I’m so proud of these guys. Everyone showed up,” said Calgary head coach Bob Hartley.
Vancouver head coach Willie Desjardins expressed his respect for the opposing side during a post-game press conference. “You have to give them credit,” said the first year head coach, “They found ways all year and they found a way again tonight.”
However, it was also a disappointment for Desjardins, who felt his team deserved a better fate. “I knew coming in it was going to be a hard series, and leaving I knew it was a hard series. I think the games were there, we just didn’t quite seize it to get it.”
Calgary will face a stiff test from their next opponents, as Anaheim has been one of the top teams in the league all season, finishing first in the Western Conference with 109 points before sweeping aside the Winnipeg Jets in their own first round series.
With their elimination, Vancouver will now prepare for the offseason with an eye on the NHL draft June 26-27, as well as managing the team’s contracts before free agency opens July 1.
Elsewhere in the NHL playoffs, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith’s overtime winner eliminated the Nashville Predators and propelled the Hawks into the second round after a 4-3 win. The New York Islanders tied their series with the Washington Capitals at three games apiece thanks to a goal and an assist from captain John Tavares in a 3-1 win. Detroit Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek shutout the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second time, helping the Wings to a 4-0 victory and a 3-2 series lead.