Mark Reeds and Mark Hunter scored 66 seconds apart in the third period tonight, rallying the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames in the first game of the Stanley Cup semifinal series.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven Campbell Conference championship is scheduled for Sunday night in Calgary before the teams move to St. Louis for two games.
The Blues have won six of the last seven games between the two teams.
With the score tied at 2, Hunter took a pass from center Bernie Federko at the Calgary blue line and split the defense before slipping the puck through goalie Mike Vernon's legs at the 15:48 mark for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Hunter, the Blues' leading scorer in the regular season, burst between three Flames and went in alone to beat Vernon on the game-winning play.
"I don't know what happened," Hunter said of his getting past the group of Flames. "I had a lot of speed up the middle. I know I didn't do anything the whole game. It was just one play I got lucky on."
The Blues had tied the score at 2 at 14:42 when Reeds scored his second goal of the game. Reeds converted Doug Wickenheiser's centering pass from behind the net at the edge of the crease, beating Vernon on the glove side.
"It was our basic game plan," said Federko. "Our idea was to continually send one guy in, play it cautiously and keep it close."
The Blues had played almost strictly defensive hockey through two periods before they turned to a more offensive style in the third period to score on two of their 17 shots on goal.
"They tend to try to frustrate you -- and that's what they did, frustrated us," veteran Calgary forward Lanny McDonald said. "We didn't work hard enough to win. . . . They taught us how hard you have to work."
The game marked the first appearance for both teams since they triumphed in grueling seven-game divisional finals. St. Louis dispatched Hartford and Calgary upset two-time defending champion Edmonton.
The Blues scored the only goal of a slow-paced opening period. Reeds dug the puck out of the corner and fired a 25-foot backhand shot along the ice that deflected off left wing Perry Berezan's skate at 9:57 of the period. Vernon kept the Blues from taking a two-goal lead with a glove save off Doug Gilmour's 20-foot wrist shot from the slot.
Calgary outshot the Blues, 12-8, in the first period but failed to capitalize on three power-play attempts.
The Flames took a 2-1 lead in the second period on goals by Colin Patterson and Hakan Loob.
Patterson fired a l0-foot slapshot to goalie Rick Wamsley's glove side, converting Loob's centering pass from behind the net at 8:59. Loob gave the Flames the lead at 16:36.