The Flames came out very flat to start this second game in as many nights, and Dallas had an early opportunity to make it 1-0, but Alexander Radulov hit the bar on a wide open net. The Stars had a couple other early chances before the Flames finally woke up and started playing. They came alive at around the midway point of the first, but neither team could take the lead.
In the second, both teams started slow with passes not quite connecting and neither team establishing much. The Flames took a penalty early on, and on the ensuing powerplay, Mikael Backlund beat a Stars defender and got the puck past Anton Khudobin to put the Flames up 1-0 shorthanded. From there it was all Stars, who pressed hard, managing 16 scoring chances, four of which were at hight danger, and limiting the Flames to no shots in the back half of the period, but Cam Talbot shut the door. With just over 30 seconds left in the second, as the Stars were set to go to the powerplay, a piece of glass broke, and the referees opted to include that time in the third. The Flames were lucky to limp out of the second period with a one goal lead.
The third period continued exactly as the second left off. Dallas was all over Calgary, with limited chances for the Flames to do anything. However, just like the iconic children’s book, the flames made Something From Nothing. T.J. Brodie took a laser from the point, which beat Khudobin and put the Flames up by two. Dallas continued to press hard, but the Flames were stronger in their own zone, limiting the Stars’ chances. And when they couldn’t, Talbot was there to shut the door. Talbot picks up another playoff shutout as the Flames take a 2-1 series lead
5v5 Player Stats
- Slotting in for the injured Matthew Tkachuk, Tobias Rieder was the only Flame at or above 50% CF, with an even split.
- Sam Bennett looked in regular season form, posting a team low 20.0% CF. Nobody on the third line was above 25% CF
- In his first game in the playoffs this year, Alan Quine played a team low 6.13 but finished with one primary assist. Not a bad way to stay in the lineup
- No Stars player was below 50% CF in this game
- Former San Jose Shark Joe Pavelski had a monster night, posting a game high 88.9% CF
- Defenceman Esa Lindell led the way with seven individual shot attempts in this one, three of which were on target.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
Sometimes you play hard and come up just short. This was not one of those games. The Flames did not look good for most of this game, and were it not for some incredible luck on the few chances they had, this game could have gone as poorly for the Flames as this afternoon’s UEFA Champions League match went for FC Barcelona.
Tremendously little stood out in the way of good for the team in red, save the goaltending from Talbot, who was magnificent. Stopping all 35(!) shots he faced in this one, including seven high danger chances, Talbot was the difference for the Flames. He stood his ground as the team got pummeled from all over the ice.
What is interesting about this is the Stars had over double the number of shot attempts as they did shots on target, and it felt as though they missed the net on a number of grade A chances, including the one right at the beginning of the game. The Stars had 19 shots that either rang iron or missed completely, coupled with 22 shots that were blocked by the Flames skaters in front of Talbot. This is not a recipe for success in the playoffs, especially against a team as skilled as Dallas. Hopefully the Flames can clean this up in the next game.
Outside of Talbot, this was probably the best game for Sean Monahan in the playoffs. He was dialed in and electric at both ends of the ice. Not only did he lead the team with four individual shot attempts, he also had three scoring chances, two of which were high danger. Defensively, he threw three hits, blocked two shots, and went six for nine in the faceoff dot. He was a force on the ice in this one, and helped spark some of the few Flames chances.
This was the first game this playoff that the top line managed a high danger chance at 5v5. That includes the entire Winnipeg series. In this game they managed two, while also allowing two against. The one big issue in this playoff has been the performance of the top group who have struggled to get things going at 5v5. Tonight was a good step forward for them, although much work is needed for them to really be a game breaker in a series.
If there is one thing that this team needs to work on its zone exits. The Flames defencemen seem too comfortable waiting for a pass into the neutral zone that has not been materializing, and then either dumping the puck to the Stars, or losing it in their own defensive end and allowing scoring chances against. The Stars are doing an excellent job clogging up the neutral zone, but the Flames cannot take as much time as they do getting the puck out of their zone. They gave the puck away entirely too often in their own zone, and could not pass or carry the puck through the neutral zone. They need to be more controlled in their collective zone exits in order to tilt the ice their way in the next game.
Finally, there was a Tkachuk-sized hole on the ice in this game. You could feel the absence of the team’s heartbeat in the way that they played. Losing Tkachuk is a hit on both offense and defense, and as well as Rieder played in this one, there is no comparison between the two players. More than that, however, Tkachuk’s leadership and grind are second to none. He is the heart and soul of this team, that not having him in the lineup made a huge impact on the way that this game went. Hopefully he is good to go next game.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: The Flames’ defense, while not perfect, was quite good at allowing Talbot to see the puck, and not allowing the Stars to jump on any rebound chances they got.
Bad: Too too many chances against. Simply not good enough from the boys in red
Beautiful: Talbot bouncing back after a rough game two is exactly what the Flames needed
Opponent: Dallas Stars
Standings: 3rd in the Central
Regular Season Series: 2-1-0
Photo by: Getty Images