Flames handle Canucks to take 3-1 series lead
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) The Calgary Flames are a win away from advancing to the second round of the NHL playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
Jiri Hudler had a goal and an assist in Calgary's 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
Calgary leads the Western Conference series 3-1.
The Flames head to Vancouver with the chance to win the series in Thursday's Game 5 and move past the first round for the first time since 2004. Calgary reached the Stanley Cup final that year and lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
''The last step, I think, is the hardest one,'' Hudler said. ''We've got to be confident, but not too confident. They've got a great team and you saw they kept coming.''
A Game 6, if necessary, will be Saturday in Calgary and a Game 7 would be Monday back in Vancouver.
Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau scored his first playoff goal and 18-year-old rookie Sam Bennett had his second in as many games.
''It's huge for us,'' said Gaudreau of winning two games at home. ''We cannot relax, but calm down, get ready to go to Van and make sure we try to get the win there.
''If we don't, we've got two more games to do that. They're going to be fighting for their lives so we've got make sure we're doing the same thing and playing the way we can play.''
Dennis Wideman had a pair of assists for the Flames, who split the first two games of the series in Vancouver before back-to-back wins at home.
Goaltender Jonas Hiller made 28 saves for the win.
Captain Henrik Sedin scored for the Canucks. Starter Eddie Lack was pulled after giving up three goals on seven shots in the first period. Ryan Miller turned away the 15 he faced in relief.
''We've played good hockey a lot of times in this series, but that means nothing,'' Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. ''We're scoring one, maybe two goals a game right now. That's not going to win you many games in the playoffs.
''We go back home and we're a confident group when we've faced elimination before. The last one's the toughest one to win, so we go back home and we put everything we can into that one.''
The Canucks were without significant playoff experience in Game 4 with the absence of forwards Brad Richardson and Alex Burrows.
''Those are two of our main (penalty) killers,'' Canucks coach Willie Desjardins. ''We use them all the time.''
Linden Vey and Brandon McMillan had their first playoff action of the series.
There wasn't an obvious reason for Richardson's absence, but Burrows was injured during Vancouver's morning skate. He staggered off the ice in pain, was put on a stretcher and taken to a hospital in an ambulance.
The Canucks said Burrows sustained an upper-body injury and had been taken to a hospital for ''precautionary reasons.''
Canucks coach Willie Desjardins did not say after the game why Richardson didn't play.
However, he confirmed that Burrows was released from the hospital Tuesday night, but did not travel with the team back to Vancouver.
The visitors outshot Calgary 11-7, but trailed 3-1 after the opening period. Vancouver mustered just three shots in a scoreless second period to Calgary's six.
Bennett crashed the net and deflected T.J. Brodie's sharp-angled shot by Lack at 19:18 of the first period. It was the only even-strength goal of the period with the first three being power-play tallies.
Calgary scored two against a Canucks penalty kill that ranked second in the league in the regular season.
Kris Russell passed to Wideman, whose one-timer deflected off Hudler to make it 2-1 at 9:20.
Vancouver had evened it at 1-1 at 8:12 when Sedin's wrist shot deflected between Hiller's pads.
Gaudreau finished a tic-tac-toe play at 3:23 for his first career playoff goal. From behind Vancouver's net, Hudler passed the puck out to Sean Monahan who passed across to Gaudreau to finish with a wrist shot.
Notes: Vancouver called up former Flames draft pick Sven Baertschi from the AHL on Tuesday, but he didn't play. ... Hudler was selected as one of three finalists for this year's Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and a high standard of play. Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings are the other finalists. ... Their AHL season over, the Flames called up 15 players from the Adirondack Flames, including recently signed forward Garnet Hathaway.