April 16, 2015 - 7:03 AM
VANCOUVER - Playoff experience and home ice advantage were concepts that eluded the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of their post-season opener with Calgary.
Kris Russell's goal with 30 seconds left to play on Wednesday gave the Calgary Flames a 2-1 victory and a 1-0 lead in the opening-round series.
The Canucks have now lost 11 of their past 12 playoff games and don't have a home ice victory in the post-season since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final against Boston in 2011.
With the Canucks leading 1-0 in the third period Wednesday, it looked like that post-season slump was coming to end. But the young Flames had other ideas and rallied with two goals to stun the Rogers Arena fans.
"We battled hard but they scored one more goal than us," said goaltender Eddie Lack, who stopped 28 shots in a strong performance for Vancouver. "I feel like (Jonas) Hiller made one more save than me and that was kind of the difference.
"You're never happy when you don't win, but you have to get back on the horse tomorrow and get back at it."
Bo Horvat scored for the Canucks in the second period at 12:08 when his backhand shot went off Dennis Wideman's skate and through Hiller's legs for his first career post-season goal.
Horvat looked dangerous much of the night and nearly scored again later in the game.
"We missed some opportunities that we should have capitalized on," said Horvat. "I could have made a couple more. We had great opportunities to put the game away, but they kept coming and got some good bounces."
Vancouver's playoff experience didn't seem to faze the young Flames. A dozen Calgary forwards were making their NHL playoff debut compared to a well-seasoned Canucks squad, who had 827 post-season contests coming into Game 1 compared to Calgary's 262.
"Rookies, veterans, whatever you want to call it, they are good hockey players and they are going to play their chances," said Canuck forward Jannick Hansen. "So it's what we expected. They're a good team and we expect nothing less."
The Flames looked faster and fresher during a wide open third period that saw end to end action, resulting in the winning goal for Calgary.
Vancouver head coach Willie Desjardins doesn't agree his team got outworked late in the third.
"I thought we opened up when we didn't need to, and they got a couple out-numbered rushes because of that, and that's where they looked like they were quicker," he said.
"That was just mistakes on our part. They are a team that does think they are going to do well in the third, and we have to capitalize on that. When they come up, we've got to turn some the other way."
Game 2 is Friday in Vancouver.
News from © Canadian Press, 2015