Twelve seconds is all it took for the Hawks to take a 1-0 series lead on the Flames, and nullify an otherwise decent opening game effort by the Flames. Though managing to lose the game in precisely 12 seconds is unbelievable (though I'll get to the goal later) I think the Flames blew an opportunity here.
I think the Flames likely win this game if one of three things happen:
1. They convert the 4-minute powerplay at the end of the first period. The Hawks looked fairly flat for the first half of the game. Khabibulin was keeping them in it, but I think if the Flames go up 2-0 here they don't look back. However, I said the first half of the game for a reason…
2. Miikka Kiprusoff doesn't let in that terrible Cam Barker goal in the second that tied the game at 1-1. Everything changed after this.
3. Mike Keenan doesn't inexplicably decide to play trap after Mike Cammalleri's goal that put the Flames back in the lead. This was a dumb decision on multiple levels – the Flames had their two best defensive defenseman out and they hadn't really played trap much all year anyway; they had gotten on just fine before in the game. The Flames laying back after Cammy's goal – when even Pierre McGuire, the biggest Flames optimist among the most notable pundits, notes concern almost immediately when noticing Calgary's new strategy, you know you're in trouble – led to not one of three Flames defenders being able to stop Martin Havlat from sending the game to the third-shortest OT in NHL history. Which reminds me of a possible fourth reason…
If the Flames brought on their own fate, what ultimately happened to kill them tonight was still unfair. Andrew Ladd got away with what I think was blatant goaltender interference on Havlat's winning goal.
Mike Cammalleri's sucker-punch on Havlat may well get him suspended for Game 2. I estimated going into this series that getting at least a split in the first two games would be crucial for the Flames' chances. Now, I don't want to call Game 2 a must win yet, but it might be.
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Written by Alex Hamilton