It was the best start the Flames have had in any game in the bubble. Facing elimination, they came out absolutely flying. They took advantage of a shaky Anton Khudobin and put three goals past the Dallas goaltender in the first 6:34 of the game.
Andrew Mangiapane led the charge with a slick tip-in goal, then Johnny Gaudreau banked one off Khudobin on the powerplay, and finally Rasmus Andersson converted on a partial two-on-one with a far-side snipe.
The key word in that last paragraph is “finally”, because that’s all the offense the Flames would muster in the game. Dallas roared back in a way I’ve never seen before, scoring seven unanswered goals to close out the series in six games. Denis Gurianov had himself a banner night, tying the Stars’ all=time playoff record with four goals in the game.
Cam Talbot let in a very soft tying goal that made it 3-3, and was pulled for David Rittich. Unfortuantely, that didn’t work out too great with Rittich allowing three goals of his own on just nine shots. Talbot was back in the crease to start the third, but it was too late and the game was out of reach.
It was a crushing way to lose, and the Flames will now head home from the bubble.
5v5 Player Stats
- After facing criticism for his 5v5 play, Gaudreau was a monster last night with 72.4% CF, 81.3% SCF, and 85.7% HDCF in the game.
- As a line, Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Tobias Rieder finished with 83.3% HDCF (5-1).
- Derek Forbort posted a game-low 50.0% CF. Every single Flames skater was at least 50% in the Corsi department.
- Gurianov led the Stars with four iSCF and four shots at 5v5, all of them finding the back of the net.
- Gurianov was the Stars’ best Corsi player at just 48.0% CF.
- John Klingberg was the team’s best at 21.4% CF.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
Well, it was a fitting loss to a pretty terrible Flames season. It was really the only game this series where the Flames completely dominated play but got betrayed by the one thing that held them in the series up to this point: goaltending.
It would be wrong to hang this loss on the skaters of the team. Yes, they’re responsible for the previous three losses, but the fourth was on goaltending. Talbot was not great, Rittich was worse, and it seemed like everything Dallas touched went in the net. It was jut one of those nights, unfortunately coming in an elimination game.
The Flames didn’t have any business even getting this series to six games. They were hopelessly outplayed in games two through five, and were really quite lucky to win one of those games. In actuality, this 7-3 score should have happened a couple times in the series, just not in Game 6.
A few notes on the game, the first being Gaudreau and Monahan. The writing has been on the wall all year: if this team couldn’t get through the first round of the playoffs and actually make some noise, there would be big changes coming. And, it’s really hard to disagree with that, because here’s the problem:
The Flames are supposed to be in their window to win. They are not even close to being a contending team. Tkachuk makes this team run, that can’t be denied, but even if he was in the series do the Flames win? If the answer is yes, then would they have a chance against Vegas or Colorado? I don’t think so. Something big is going to happen this offseason, and you, a Flames fan, should be very worried. If they screw up this retool, it’ll turn into a Buffalo Sabres-esque rebuild. There are no elite talents coming up the pipeline. No prospects to really get hyped about. The future of this team isn’t bright, so success has to come now.
I would much rather the Flames not trade Gaudreau who was absolutely electric in the last four periods of the series, and is a unique talent you can’t find on the street. But what other options exist? Monahan? Who knows what will happen, but it’s very important not to mess it up.
Switching gears, I thought the decision to pull Talbot was ludicrous. He had been the team’s MVP the whole postseason and the Flames weren’t even losing at that point. It was tied! Why would you pull Talbot? When Geoff Ward pointed to Rittich on the bench, I was completely baffled and it went just about as well as you could have expected.
Very questionable decision, but goaltending was the only real issue this game and maybe Ward felt it wasn’t Talbot’s night. Either way, it was a massive loss and an embarrassing one at that. I feel really bad for Rittich, who was put in a situation designed for him to fail, and even worse for Tkachuk who looked absolutely irate with his team squandering a three goal lead in an elimination game.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the UGLY
Good: Gaudreau was phenomenal. Truly phenomenal. He showed everyone why he’s such a special player and will do damage to teams for years to come. Hopefully it’ll be in a Flames uniform.
Bad: Having to shake hands with Corey Perry.
Ugly: The goaltending. Couldn’t buy a save in the most important game of the year. It wasn’t meant to be.
Photo by: Bruce Bennett/ Getty Images