Throughout the playoffs Calgary's opponents have reiterated that the key to stopping the Flames is shutting down Jarome Iginla's line. Three division champions (Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose) couldn't do it and neither could Tampa Bay in the first as that line spotted the Flames a 1-0 lead at 3:02.
Iginla tried to get his stick on a puck that already had slipped past Nikolai Khabibulin on Craig Conroy's wrister that went off the skate of Martin Gelinas.
Tampa Bay looked sluggish with occasional sloppy passing and overskating the puck.
THE POSITIVE: Coming off a physical seven-game series against Philadelphia, the Lightning did not back down in what should be another taxing series. Both teams came out hitting with Vinny Lecavalier and Calgary's Jordan Leopold mixing it up along the boards early. Later, Dave Andreychuk stirred things up behind the Calgary net after Miikka Kiprusoff stuffed Tim Taylor's tap-in bid from in close in the waning seconds.
THE NEGATIVE: Calgary entered 8-2 on the road and took a step toward extending that win total by scoring first.
KEY PLAY: Conroy's wrist shot from just inside the blue line deflected off Gelinas' right skate and near the right post. Khabibulin nearly had the puck smothered, but it slid across the goal line off the butt end of his stick.
KEY PLAYER: Khabibulin he came up big on two later Calgary scoring bids. The Lightning netminder skated out into the left faceoff circle to smother a loose puck that Iginla got a piece of and got his right elbow on Chris Clark's partial breakaway.
Whatever Lightning coach John Tortorella said in the locker room worked, at least initially. The Lightning took four of the first five shots in the period and Andre Roy crunched Andrew Ference into the boards.
But the Flames doubled their shots and were rewarded with twice the goals of the first period. Calgary, which had five shots and took a 1-0 lead in the first, had 10 shots and two goals this period.
Calgary took a commanding 3-0 lead on Jarome Iginla's short-handed goal and Stephane Yelle's wraparound.
For the Lightning, Vinny Lecavalier's slap shot from the slot was kicked out by Miikka Kiprusoff. The Flames goalie also got his right pad on Dave Andreychuk's shot through a crowd.
THE POSITIVE: Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Ruslan Fedotenko put pressure on the Flames on every shift and St. Louis forced Ference into a hooking penalty at 14:48.
THE NEGATIVE: The Flames scored twice and effectively bottled up the Lightning's speed with Tampa Bay helping by not looking sharp in its passing.
KEY PLAY: Iginla's goal, his playoff-leading 11th. He was off to the races after a centering pass got past Fredrik Modin. Nikolai Khabibulin got a glove on Iginla's wrist shot, but the puck bounced to the left of the net. Iginla chased it down and put it past Khabibulin on the short side just ahead of Modin.
KEY PLAYER: Iginla, who tied for the league lead with 41 goals in the regular season. His burst down the middle of the ice made the Lightning pay for its turnover.
Well, at least it wasn't a shutout. Martin St. Louis' power-play goal at 4:13 got the Lightning on the scoreboard, but that was negated by Chris Simon's power-play goal with 20 seconds left.
The loss was Tampa Bay's first in a series opener in this year's playoffs.
Tampa Bay fell to 7-3 in the playoffs at the St. Pete Times Forum and Calgary improved to 9-2 on the road, one win shy of the league-record 10 held by New Jersey (1995 and 2000).
St. Louis' goal prevented Miikka Kiprusoff from notching his fifth shutout. He and Nikolai Khabibulin have four.
With 1:20 left and Ruslan Fedotenko in the penalty box for roughing, Khabibulin was pulled for an extra skater and the teams played five a side until St. Louis was whistled for high sticking with 54 seconds left. Khabibulin returned to the net and Simon scored.
THE POSITIVE: The Lightning entered with the league's best power play in the playoffs at 21.2 percent (14-for-66) and scored on its fourth attempt.
THE NEGATIVE: The Lightning shot itself in the foot in the last few minutes. Penalties to Fedotenko and St. Louis thwarted a late push and led to Simon's goal.
KEY PLAY: Moments after hitting the left post, St. Louis hit the same post again with a slap shot from the left point. Only this time the puck went in, trickling past Kiprusoff for St. Louis' sixth playoff goal and league-leading 19th point.
KEY PLAYER: Kiprusoff stopped every shot he faced except for one of two that hit posts. St. Louis' shot from the left point hit the left post and banked off Kiprusoff's right side before trickling in.