VANCOUVER - Falling behind is nothing new to the Calgary Flames.
Neither is winning in dramatic fashion.
Kris Russell scored with 29.6 seconds left in regulation Wednesday as Calgary stormed back with two goals in the third period to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarter-final.
The Flames won 10 times when trailing after 40 minutes in the regular season and continued their late heroics in the club's first playoff game since 2009.
"Those guys are amazing," said Calgary head coach Bob Hartley. "Nothing rattles us, we stay composed and keep our focus and in the third period we could feel it on the bench. The boys were even commenting 'Boys we're coming, we're coming.'"
David Jones tied it for the Flames midway through the third before Russell's winner found its way through traffic thanks to a screen from rookie Sam Bennett, who was playing in just his second professional game, after a dominant shift that had the Canucks hemmed in deep.
"It was a good play to start off by our forwards," said Russell. "I just tried getting it as hard as I could in a good spot and the guys did a good job in front."
The Flames tied for first in the NHL with 99 third-period goals this season and came in waves at the Canucks, especially after the equalizer.
"We just find another gear in the third," said Jones. "I'm not sure what it is. We just kind of buckle down. I think because we've done it so much this year."
Jonas Hiller made 29 saves to get the win, including a couple big stops when the score was still 1-0.
"Those are the saves you want to make," said Hiller. "They can shift the momentum and I think that's what happened."
Bo Horvat scored and Eddie Lack made 28 saves for Vancouver, which is back in the post-season after missing out last spring for the first time in six years and will look to even the series in Game 2 on Friday.
"For 45 minutes we were extremely good," said Canucks captain Henrik Sedin. "After they scored their first one there were some mistakes for our side."
Horvat snapped a scoreless tie at 12:08 of the second period after Lack, who was making his first playoff start, made a couple big saves at the other end. The 20-year-old rookie had his first shot blocked, but his follow up on the backhand nicked off a skate in front and past Hiller to send the crowd at Rogers Arena into a frenzy.
But as has been so often the case this season, Calgary came on in the third and tied the game at 7:59 when Jones roofed a shot over Lack on a 3-on-2 that materialized after a soft play by the Canucks at their own blue-line.
"I don't think we want to play from behind, especially against a team like that," said Jones. "But we're definitely comfortable being in that position in the third period. We've done it a lot this year. We'll try and get the first goal next time."
Vancouver has now lost seven straight home playoff dates since winning Game 5 of 2011 Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins and has just one victory in its last 12 post-season outings.
"We just have to learn from the mistakes we made and move on," said Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows. "We did some good things too. They're a good team over there and they made some plays."
Vancouver came out hitting in the first period against the young Flames, who were on their heels a bit in the early going before finding that familiar late groove.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," said Russell. "They have a great team. We know the series is just getting started. It's only going to get tougher. To get the first one, we can get some confidence on that."
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