Kris Russell (Rich Lam/Getty Images)
The Calgary Flames just won't go away. Down 1-0 heading into the third period of Game 1 against Vancouver, Flames winger David Jones tied the game and defenseman Kris Russell scored on a slapshot from the blueline with less than 30 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
The Vancouver Canucks learned a valuable lesson in the first game of their opening round series against the Calgary Flames: if you want to beat this team, you have to make sure you bury them under a pile of goals. Otherwise, the never-say-die Flames will find a way to make you pay.
In another of their improbable victories, the Flames entered the third period down by one. After evening the score with 12 minutes remaining in the final frame on a David Jones marker, Calgary built up substantial pressure as time wound down. Sam Bennett controlled the puck below the goal line with less than 40 seconds left, made a quick pass that narrowly missed the stick of Jones but was held in by Dennis Wideman.
Wideman, who has been outstanding since Mark Giordano went down with injury, took a peek at his shooting lane before shuffling the puck across the blueline to Kris Russell, where Russell let go a quick slapshot that found its way through a glut of bodies and past Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack:
In his career, the 27-year-old Russell had played a mere 13 playoff games and registered only five points. His game-winner Wednesday is only his second career playoff goal and the first one he has scored since 2008-09 when he was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Calgary, who came into the game and series as underdogs just as they have all campaign, has made their mark this season by somehow managing to pull out last second victories with regularity. However, unlike the regular season victories of past, this game was on a much bigger stage -- one which it would have been expected the Canucks would have done everything short of piling players in the net to stop the Flames from equalizing.
At some point, it would be expected Calgary's luck would run out. Somehow, it seems more and more unlikely that'll happen with each passing game.