ANAHEIM, Calif. - Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley is going with his best goaltender for Game 2 against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. Right now he feels that's backup Karri Ramo.
Ramo allowed three goals on 21 shots in the opener — a 6-1 loss — after starter Jonas Hiller surrendered three goals on 14 shots and was yanked for the third time in seven games this post-season.
Hiller made an even earlier exit in the series clincher against Vancouver, after the Canucks scored on two of their first three shots against him.
"Last night I felt that (Hiller) was not at his best," Hartley said at the Flames' optional practice on Friday.
"We have to be honest. I'm not a fan of pulling goalies for no reason. But at the same time, I felt that he was not on his game and we weren't on our game. Last night they stung us with a few quick goals, and basically the game was over.''
Hiller referred to the loss as a "wake-up call" for the team.
The Flames were pushed around throughout Game 1, especially Calder Cup finalist Johnny Gaudreau, who is listed at five-foot-nine and 150 pounds. Hartley kept the rookie left-winger on the bench the entire third period.
"I was not surprised by his reaction when I told him early in the third period that he wasn't playing anymore, and why he wasn't playing. He was not happy,'' Hartley said. "Johnny's a big-time player for us, but we all agreed as coaches that it was best for him not to play.''
With leading goal scorer Jiri Hudler and Michael Ferland both missing most of the game because of undisclosed injuries, and Brandon Bollig getting matching cross-checking and misconduct penalties during his scuffle with former Flames right wing Tim Jackman early in the third, Hartley was down to eight forwards.
But he refused to reconsider sending Gaudreau back out there.
"There was no sense in exposing him out there,'' Hartley said. "My job as the head coach of the Calgary Flames is to do what's best for this organization at the time. And what was best last night was to keep him on the bench,'' Hartley said. "Johnny isn't a big-sized player, but this young man is a great competitor and he wants to be on the ice.''
Gaudreau played 17 shifts totaling about 14 1-2 minutes in Game 1. One of the hardest hits he absorbed came from Nate Thompson, who cross-checked him at 2:50 of the second and gave the Flames a power-play opportunity they failed to cash in on.
"They're a physical team, but I'm not really sure that's why I sat or not,'' Gaudreau said. "Obviously, that wasn't the best game I've played, but I know I can bring a lot more to the table, and so can the team throughout.
"We've had success this season playing against bigger and more physical teams, so I think we're going to have a good push in Game 2. There's a ton of things we can do better.''
One of them is stopping the Ducks' top line of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Maroon, who combined for three goals and six assists. Perry and Getzlaf each tied a Ducks franchise record for a playoff game with four points.
"They're two world-class players and they're big-sized players,'' Hartley said. "They can score, they can pass, they can check, they can hit. And what adds to the challenge is the depth of their three other lines. They're not a one-trick pony. Last night we gave them the puck on a few occasions and they made us pay for it. Their chemistry is basically flawless.''
The Flames, who haven't lost back-to-back games on the same road trip since December, entered this series with 20 consecutive regular-season losses in Anaheim dating back to January 2004. Their last win there in the playoffs came in 2006.
"We love playing in this building and getting the crowd into it early. But that's a media stat, to tell you the truth," Getzlaf said. "Every game, every year we come into it with the same mentality. We've got to play hard. We know they're a great hockey team, and they're going to rebound and play great the next game."