The Calgary Flames took home-ice advantage from Vancouver with a Game 1 win, though it's been awfully hard to call playing at the Rogers Centre in recent postseasons a benefit for the Canucks.
Before heading to Calgary, Vancouver will try to even the first-round Western Conference series Friday night and end a seven-game home losing streak in the playoffs.
The Flames' 2-1 win Wednesday came after entering the third period down a goal. David Jones evened things, then Kris Russell scored with 30 seconds left. The dramatics might not come as a surprise to the Flames, who outscored opponents 99-68 in the third period during the regular season and were tied with Tampa Bay for the most goals in the final 20 minutes.
They were outscored 70-54 in the first and held a 75-71 advantage in the second.
"We just find another gear in the third," Jones told the team's official website. "I'm not sure what it is; we just kind of buckle down. I think because we've done it so much this year we kind of get the ball rolling and it's just got better and better all season."
Vancouver wasn't a bad third-period team, outscoring opponents 84-75, and coach Willie Desjardins thinks his team can turn the Flames' late-game confidence around on them.
"I don't think they looked fresher," Desjardins told the team's official website. "I thought we opened up when we didn't need to and they got a couple outnumbered rushes because of that, and that's where they looked like they were quicker. They are a team that does think they are going to do well in the third, and we have to capitalize on that."
Few teams have succeeded in doing so lately. Since the beginning of March, Calgary is 13-5-3 while scoring 3.19 goals per game.
"Those guys are unbelievable," said Flames coach Bob Hartley, who has the team in the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. "They always find a way."
The Canucks are only finding ways to pile up postseason defeats. Overall, it was Vancouver's sixth straight playoff loss and 11th in 12 games. It has been outscored 50-21 while losing 13 of 15 and has nine in its seven consecutive home postseason losses, but the team is choosing to look at things on a smaller scale.
"We just have to learn from the mistakes we made tonight and move on," Alexandre Burrows said. "We'll learn from it and get ready for Game 2. We did some good things too. They're a good team over there and they made some plays."
The Canucks, who finished four points ahead of Calgary for second place in the Pacific Division, have now dropped three straight in the series after winning nine in a row.
The five games this season include a 10-all overall score, and while Vancouver has dropped three straight by a goal each, it has been flawless on the penalty kill (12 for 12). Over the 9-3-0 run, the Canucks have gone 35 of 36 on the kill as well as 14 for 14 in five games this month.
Calgary's Jonas Hiller won his fourth straight game and is 6-1-0 with a .946 save percentage in his last eight, though Game 1 was his first win in his last five postseason starts. In Vancouver, he's gone 4-0-2 with a .929 save percentage as a starter since his last regulation loss on March 24, 2010.
Eddie Lack, who started over Ryan Miller, has now lost two of his three starts against the Flames this season despite a .947 save percentage.
Calgary center Sean Monahan is without a point in six career games in Vancouver.
Canucks winger Radim Vrbata hasn't scored in a season-high seven games and has been limited to an assist in his last nine playoff contests.