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MACINNIS KEEPS FLAMES BURNING GREEN IS BLUE AFTER GIVEAWAY COSTS CANADIENS

They say it's a kid's game.

That may explain why Calgary's Al MacInnis wore a childish grin late Tuesday night.

It may also explain Rick Green's look of crushing disappointment.

MacInnis, the Flames' seemingly unstoppable offensive defenseman, scored the game-winning goal in Calgary's 3-2 victory over the Canadiens in Game Five of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup championship series.

Green, Montreal's veteran defensive defenseman, had a hand in giving the game away.

"I looked up and it (the puck) was there," said Green moments after the Flames took a three-games-to-two lead in the series. "I looked down and it was gone."

Maybe, just maybe, Montreal's chance to win the Stanley Cup went with it.

The series returns to Montreal tomorrow night for Game Six.

The game was not yet 30 seconds old when Green made a routine move on a loose puck at his own blue line. He appeared to have control, but as he tried to move it ahead, a play he has probably made thousands of times in his 13-year career, it was gone.

Green overskated the puck and before he realized his mistake, Joel Otto was running it past Montreal goaltender Patrick Roy.

"I thought it was right on my stick," said Green. "And it wasn't. It was just one of those things, but a break like that, early in the game, doesn't help.

"We came back pretty good. We played well enough to win, but it wasn't good enough to win."

Hardly.

Teams that have played with the lead for most of a game in this series have usually played themselves into the win column.

Joey Mullen pushed the Flames to a 2-0 advantage at 8:15 of the first period but Bobby Smith scored on a power play at 13:24 for the Canadiens. MacInnis netted the eventual winner with 29 seconds to play until intermission.

Calgary was on the power play when
Rob Ramage moved the puck across to MacInnis on the right point. As he has done so many other times in this series, MacInnis found nothing but net.

"The coaches have told me to crank it up and I've been doing that," said the man reputed to have the hardest shot in hockey. "I don't know if I'm shooting it any harder, but I know I'm shooting it more. I guess my level of intensity just goes up in the playoffs."

How high is a case for the record books. MacInnis' goal was his seventh of the playoffs, his second in as many games, and his 29th point. It expanded his league record for points in consecutive playoff games to 16 (Bobby Orr had held the record at 14); the last time MacInnis went without a point was Game Five of the opening-round playoff series with Vancouver. It also brought him to within eight points of Paul Coffey's record for playoff points by a defenseman (37) and it virtually assured him of this playoff's scoring championship (Philadelphia's Tim Kerr is second with 25 points).

It also proved again that MacInnis is someone for whom the Canadiens have no answer.

Montreal players seemed sluggish and worn in this game, as if the numerous hits they've been taking from the bigger Calgary players have taken a toll.

Canadien penalty killers, particularly adept at moving out to cover MacInnis at the point in the early games, have not been able to get there the last two games.

They were also slow to clear their end and were usually beaten while trying to go through the neutral zone. When Montreal did get the puck into the Calgary zone, largely with shoot-ins, it was a Calgary player who got to it first.

"We've been going with four lines all year and we seemed fresh," said Calgary coach Terry Crisp. "Pat (Montreal coach Pat Burns) has been doing it, too, but we had fresh legs. We had (Jiri) Hrdina back in there and (Jim) Peplinski was back, too. We were able to wear them down and wear them down."

But not finish them off; Montreal's Mike Keane scored in the middle of the second period.

The Canadiens outshot the Flames, 11-5, through the final 20 minutes and might have forced yet another overtime had not Russ Courtnall fired a shot just over the crossbar with two seconds left.

"I guess we show a tendency to go into a defensive shell late in the game," said MacInnis. "It's not something you do intentionally. You just start sending one guy in and try to keep four guys back. We just try to keep the front of the net open and prevent that second shot."

Said Courtnall: "It (the puck) was wobbling when I got it. I thought I got it on the net, but it went straight up."

That was all part of another wild ending with bodies flying, nets coming unhinged and milling players looking to knock one another's heads off while screaming for penalties to the other guys.

Still, the Flames came out on top.

"We know Montreal goes for the net so we have to battle there," said Calgary goaltender Mike Vernon. "We have to be ready for the big scrum and bodies in front of the net. When it's in front you just hope you can move so you can get a piece of it."

Kind of like MacInnis did. And Green didn't.

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