The Calgary Flames aren't very big but they're fast, tenacious and physical on the forecheck and that was a big factor in Vancouver's 4-2 loss in Game 3, which leaves them down 2-1 in the first-round series.
Both of Calgary's first two goals came as a result of extended time spent in the Canucks zone that started with a relentless forecheck leading to turnovers.
"They get it in deep and they finish their hits, they don't give us too much time," said Canucks defenceman Luca Sbisa, whose misplay contributed to Brandon Bollig's opening goal 6:35 into the game.
"As a (defenceman), you're under a lot of pressure and you don't have too many options. So we've got to do a better job of either getting back to the puck quicker or our forwards doing a better job of holding them up a bit more."
On the second goal, it was winger Radim Vrbata who got the puck along the sideboards and was immediately hit by Joe Colborne, forcing a costly turnover.
Henrik Sedin admits the Canucks forwards need to do a better job of getting back and giving the defencemen somewhere to pass the puck.
"If we don't come back for them, it's a tough play for them to make," said Sedin.
After being charged with nine turnovers in each of the first two games, the Canucks had 16 in Game 3.
"It's more about us coming back and making plays. If we can make one or two plays and give the D some options, they're not going to be able to keep doing that because they're going to get burned," said Sedin.
From his spot in the goal crease, goaltender Eddie Lack had maybe the best view of what the Flames were doing so successfully on Sunday.
"There were a couple times where we had the opportunity to get the puck out and we have to be harder on the boards and expect their pinch to come because it's coming," said Lack. "Sometimes I feel like we're looking for the play while there's an opportunity to just chip the puck out and get a change."
Flames coach Bob Hartley says that style of play is part of Calgary's game plan.
"We didn't want to get caught giving them too much time to establish their transition game. I felt that our puck pursuit was great. Our reads in the neutral zone were good, our angling was good. We didn't give them much room," said Hartley.
Leading the way for Calgary with eight hits — all seemingly along the end boards in the offensive zone was Michael Ferland. The six-foot-two, 215 pound rookie is third in the NHL in the playoffs with 18 hits through three games.
Hartley has really liked what he's seen from Ferland, who turns 22 on Monday.
"Right from the get go, (Ferland) delivered some good, solid clean hits and that's the way we always play. He filled in. He took advantage of Lance Bouma's injury and he's really creating a good role for himself," said Hartley.
As for the series, Bieksa doesn't think the Canucks have been that bad and he expects them to rebound for Game 4 on Tuesday night.
"When you don't play your best, you're usually going to lose," Bieksa said. "We didn't play very well at all and they played pretty good. That's the way the series goes. There's going to be ups and downs.
"We're down a game again, but we're looking for a split in Calgary, so we'll come back next game. We're a pretty resilient team."Suggest a correction