The Calgary Flames had a chance to clinch the Pacific Division as the Dallas Stars visited the Saddledome to wrap up a three-game Western Canada trip. The Flames are were one regulation win away from winning the Pacific, and as the NHL schedule would have it, they’d face a tired Stars team with a prime opportunity to do exactly that.
The first period opened with penalties-a-plenty as two minors were called per team over a span of two minutes. With abbreviated power plays for both teams and all sorts of on-ice situations, neither team was able to capitalise.
The first 20 minutes of play wasn’t exactly high paced as the game flow was a bit choppy at times with all the penalties called. As the period tapered off, the Stars went on their third power play as the Flames were called for too many men.
However, the Flames’ penalty kill was solid and broke up any attempts of a cycle from Dallas by intercepting passes, clogging up the neutral zone, and eliminating all chances.
Calgary had much more gusto to their game to start the second period. They sustained pressure until yet another too many men penalty was called against them, making it three such bench minors in the span of two games.
Once again, the penalty kill was up to the task, and just as the penalty was expiring, the Stars were called for goalie interference, sending the Flames on a power play of their own.
In the final seconds of the power play, the Flames’ first unit was on the ice cycling the puck. Johnny Gaudreau passed to an open Matthew Tkachuk at the side of the net, and he quickly turned to Jake Oettinger and slammed the puck in for the goal. That’d be goal number 40 and point number 100 for Tkachuk. What a goal, what a season.
Tkachuk became the first Flame to hit 40 goals this season and first Flame to do so since Jarome Iginla scored 43 goals in 2010–11. In 2021–22, he’d be the 11th player in the NHL to reach the milestone.
The celebration was short-lived as the Stars scored on a power play of their own less than two minutes later—Jason Robertson scored to pick up his 38th goal of his sophomore campaign.
The two teams went into the second intermission tied at one apiece despite Calgary firmly controlling the play.
Just 20 seconds into the third, Noah Hanifin scored on shot from the blueline that made its way in after going off of Miro Heiskanen. Mikael Backlund looked like he might have tipped it in, but after replay the goal was rewarded to Hanifin. In either case, the Flames were up and were less than 20 minutes away from clinching the Pacific Division.
However, the Stars answered back again. After some Grade-A chances for the Flames in the Stars’ zone, Stars rookie Fredrik Karlstrom—making his NHL debut—was sprung on a partial breakaway. His initial shot was stopped, but the rebound was tucked in by Luke Glendening to even the game up once again.
With just over seven minutes remaining, the Flames won an offensive zone faceoff and a far shot from Chris Tanev found the back of the net after a couple of deflections. Once again, Backlund was in prime position for the tip, but he was held off of the scoresheet.
It was one of the games for Backlund where despite not getting a single point, he was directly responsible for two goals by being in the right position in front of the net.
As the game wound down, the Stars ultimately pulled Oettinger, and a pass attempt from Andrew Mangiapane went right past Tyler Toffoli and into the vacant net instead, marking Mangiapane’s 35th goal of the season.
The clock hit zero, the Flames win the game by a final score of 4–2, and more importantly they also clinch the Pacific Division crown—their first time since winning it back in 2018–19.
Data visualisations from the game are below!
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