Game Two: Anaheim 4, Calgary 3
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) - Scott Niedermayer showed why he was one of the top free agents in the NHL last summer.
The Anaheim defenseman scored a short-handed goal and logged nearly 30 minutes of ice time Sunday night to help the Mighty Ducks beat Calgary 4-3 to even the Western Conference series at a game apiece.
"We're happy to be going back like this," said Niedermayer, who won three Stanley Cups in 12 years with New Jersey before coming to Anaheim. "If we were going back down two, it would have been a hole that would've been tough. Now we just shorten the series a little bit and start again from scratch in a couple days."
Niedermayer gave Anaheim a 2-0 lead in the first period with a sensational short-handed goal.
Niedermayer cleanly stripped the puck from Matthew Lombardi in the Ducks' zone, then showed his speed in racing away on a 150-foot breakaway. Moving in on Miikka Kiprusoff, Niedermayer cut to his left and slid a forehand shot under the Flames' goalie for his 18th career playoff goal.
"He's a superstar," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "He plays every situation, night in, night out, has the ability to elevate his game, and does all the things that are necessary to provide you with leadership."
Sami Pahlsson, Chris Kunitz, and Joffrey Lupul also scored for Anaheim, and Jarome Iginla, Kristian Huselius and Dion Phaneuf countered for Calgary.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Anaheim. In Game 1, Darren McCarty scored 9:45 into overtime to give the Flames a 2-1 victory.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 22 saves in his return to Anaheim's lineup. Giguere, the Conn Smythe winner as the playoff MVP in 2003 when Anaheim reached the Stanley Cup final, sat out Anaheim's overtime loss Friday night because of a lower-body injury.
"It's a big win for us to go back with a 1-1 tie," Giguere said. "The Flames are not going to give us anything for free and we're not going to give them anything for free. It will be a hard battle all the way to the end and most of the games are going to be pretty tight. That's the way we should expect them."
Anaheim took a 3-0 lead on Lupul's goal at 5:10 of the second period, but Calgary rallied on Iginla's short-handed goal at 9:09 and Huselius' power-play score with 8:07 left in the period. Pahlsson made it 4-2 at 7:55 of the third period, and Phaneuf completed the scoring with a power-play goal with 4:29 to play.
"They were more desperate than us off the start and we didn't match it," Iginla said. "It was that first period where we were very flat and they were good. They got out ahead of us and we didn't fully get back into it."
Giguere held off the Flames on another late power play, and stopped Lombardi's shot from 15 feet with 2 seconds remaining.
Kunitz opened the scoring for the Mighty Ducks at 9:37 of the first period and Niedermayer made it 2-0 with his short-handed goal with 6:40 left in the period.
Kiprusoff made 16 saves. He allowed four goals for the first time in 38 games dating to a 4-3 overtime loss at Vancouver on Jan. 8.
Calgary was 2-for-12 on the power play, while Anaheim was 0-for-6.
"We have to be sharper and do the little things better," Flames defenseman Roman Hamrlik. "We have to play a full hockey game and be better prepared."
Notes: Calgary made two lineup changes, inserting forwards Craig MacDonald and Mike Leclerc for Chris Simon and Jamie Lundmark. ... When Calgary opens a playoff series with a split at home, the Flames are 4-6 - including losses the last four times they have faced that scenario (1990, '91, '93 and '94). Each of those losses came in the opening round. The last time Calgary won a series after an initial home split was in the 1989 Stanley Cup final when the Flames beat Montreal in six games.