For the first time in over a decade, the Calgary Flames are heading to the second round of the NHL Playoffs.
And the Vancouver Canucks are going home.
A wild, back-and-forth game six at the Scotiabank Saddledome ended with a 7-4 victory for the Calgary Flames, giving them a 4-2 series victory over Vancouver.
The Canucks led 3-0 less than ten minutes into the game, but Calgary just needed 16 minutes to tie it up, setting the stage for the wild second half of the game.
Matt Stajan’s goal with less than five minutes to go gave Calgary their first lead in the game, and Jiri Hudler and Michael Ferland would seal it with two empty-netters in the final minute.
WATCH: Stajan’s goal
“Things happen so quickly out there and even when I go home, I’ll probably blink my eyes and still have to pinch myself to realize what happened,” said Stajan.
“That’s why we play the games. This is a special moment.”
It means Calgary advances to the Western Conference semifinals against the Anaheim Ducks next week.
The Canucks, meanwhile, were eliminated in the first round for the third time in four years.
“You have to give them credit,” said Canucks coach Willie Desjardins. “They found ways all year and they found a way again tonight. I’m proud of our guys. One hundred and one points this year was a good run.”
WATCH: Postgame comments from the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames
Vancouver, which was looking to force a game seven after being down three games to one, got the scoring going just 2:36 into the period on a Brandon McMillan goal. That was followed by a shorthanded goal by Jannik Hansen at 7:32 of the period, his second of the playoffs.
WATCH: Hansen’s goal
The Flames removed Jonas Hiller after giving up two goals on three shots, but replacing him with Ramo didn’t initially stop the bleeding. Just two minutes after Hansen’s goal, Radim Vrbata scored his second of the series to give Vancouver a 3-0 lead.
WATCH: Vrbata’s goal
It was the quickest Vancouver had ever scored three goals in a playoff game, but, Calgary didn’t flinch, tying it up almost as quickly as Vancouver had made 3-0. Michael Ferland scored with 2:58 left in the first, re-awakening the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd that had quieted somewhat after Vancouver’s onslaught.
WATCH: Ferland’s goal
“What about the crowd? The crowd never left us. We were down three-zip and we felt their support. What a great story,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley.
That was quickly followed up 72 seconds into the second period, as Sean Monahan got the Flames within one after Ryan Miller gave up a big rebound on a Jiri Hudler shot, before Johnny Gaudreau tied it four minutes later on a tip-in off a Jiri Hudler shot.
WATCH: Gaudreau’s goal
But a Luca Sbisa point shot halfway through the second period managed to get past Karri Ramo, giving the Canucks the lead once again – the last time they would be ahead this season.
WATCH: Sbisa’s goal
Hudler, who finished with four points in the game, tied it on a wrist shot six minutes into the third period.
For some time in the third period, there was the specter of history repeating itself. In both 1994 and 2004, the Canucks and Flames went to overtime in Game 6 with the Canucks down 3-2 in the series. And both times, Vancouver scored in overtime.
But it was not to be.
WATCH: Hudler’s goal
Ryan Miller gave up five goals on 31 shots, while Ramo made 17 saves on 19 shots.
– With files from The Canadian Press