NHL

Verbal exchange could ignite Flames' Iginla

Jarome Iginla and the fired-up Flames will attempt to make Chicago eat its words and even their best-of-seven NHL Western Conference quarter-final at two games apiece Wednesday at Calgary (8 p.m. MT).

Teammate Conroy expects captain at his best against Blackhawks

The verbal insults and trash talking were in high gear at ice level during the final minutes of Calgary's NHL playoff win over Chicago on Monday, with Flames forward Jarome Iginla the target of much of the abuse.

Calgary's captain took offence to the action by Blackhawks tough guy Adam Burish, who broke his stick on Flames winger Rene Bourque's shoulder, resulting in a melee in front of the Chicago bench.

Iginla and company got the last laugh, though, skating to a 4-2 victory to cut the Blackhawks' lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final to 2-1, with Game 4 Wednesday at the Saddledome in Calgary (8 p.m. MT).

"I like Jarome on the edge," said Flames centre Craig Conroy, an occasional linemate of Iginla's during his six seasons in Calgary. "Jarome's not afraid to say anything back and it gets him all fired up."

Until the Game 3 fracas, Iginla had been rather quiet — at least on the scoresheet — with a goal and an assist in the series, but little do the Blackhawks know that a fired-up Iginla is an effective and productive Iginla, added Conroy.

"There wasn't any one thing as far as verbal that got to me [late in Game 3]. I can take that," Iginla, the Flames' top scorer in the regular season with 89 points in 82 games, told reporters Tuesday. "Verbal abuse is nothing. Trash talking is fine."

If you listen to Burish, expect it to continue Wednesday night, despite an edict issued from the National Hockey League to  both teams to keep their mouths closed or risk a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

'It's going to be a war'

"All the fans here [in Calgary] are going to be in for a treat," said Burish, who racked up 93 penalty minutes in the regular season. "It's going to be a war. It's going to be mean. It's going to be nasty, and that's what I love."

Bourque, who missed 24 games this season with an ankle injury, didn't participate in Tuesday's optional skate and is listed as day to day, according to Calgary head coach Mike Keenan.

Iginla said he and his teammates can take it as well as dish it out a little, but the bottom line is getting the results on the scoreboard.

Those came in Game 3 as the Flames were able to hold a lead for the first time in the series, outhit hit their opponents 45-31 in what was already a physical series and received three goals from their checking lines.

Right-winger David Moss scored twice after notching a career-best 20 goals in the regular campaign, while Eric Nystrom fired his first NHL playoff to tie the game 1-1 in the first period.

From there, Calgary rode a 36-save night from goalie Miikka Kiprusoff to victory, all the while drawing inspiration from a raucous crowd of 19,289 known as the "C of Red."

Still, there are concerns in the Flames' game, such as centre Olli Jokinen's 16-game slide without a goal and a 1-for-10 showing on the power play. They also have to find a way of slowing the Chicago's top line of Jonathan Toews between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.

Kane ready for Game 4

They will be reunited Wednesday as Kane is expected to return following a reported bout with the flu earlier in the week. He also took a couple of bone-jarring hits in Game 2, courtesy of Bourque.

"He is a big part of our team," said Sharp of Kane, whose 70 regular-season points for the Blackhawks trailed only forward Martin Havlat's 77. "He finds a way to get on the scoresheet all the time and he really balances out our scoring line, so he was a big loss for us tonight."

Kane, Toews and Sharp have combined for 10 points in the series, but they'll probably have Calgary blue-liner Cory Sarich in their face much of the night. He battled through a lingering foot injury to log 20 minutes 22 seconds of ice time and finished with a plus-2 rating and three blocked shots.

For the Blackhawks, defenceman Duncan Keith and Havlat took a rest day Tuesday and didn't practice.

Historically, the Blackhawks have had a 2-0 lead in 18 series, winning 16 of them, and haven't lost such a series since the 1971 Stanley Cup final, which the Montreal Canadiens rallied to win in seven games.

The series shifts to Chicago for Game 5 on Saturday at 7 p.m. MT.

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