Round one of the playoffs is underway. The Calgary Flames have been waiting a long time for playoff hockey, and they came out guns blazing for their opener against the Dallas Stars. Jacob Markstrom tended the net for the Flames, while Jake Oettinger was between the pipes for the Stars. The Saddledome was filled to capacity, as was the Red Lot just outside, and the Red Mile was buzzing hours before puck drop. The city was ready. The team was ready. Let’s go.
The game kicked off with an absolute bang. The Flames were throwing the body on every single play, finishing their checks as hard as they could as often as they could. It was very reminiscent of the game against Nashville last week, but this time it was just the Flames dishing out the hits.
Just like the night before, the referees were calling the rulebook extremely tightly, which was a bit disruptive to the flow of the game. The Flames were clearly expecting the whistles to be put away and for a lot of rough stuff to be let go, but that wasn’t the case. In total, 60 PIMs were handed out to the two teams in this contest and each had five power play opportunities.
On the Flames’ first man advantage, they opened the scoring and wasted no time doing it. Just five seconds into the power play, Elias Lindholm fired home his first of the postseason to give the Flames the early lead. Assists went to Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau, the top line trio once again carrying the load for the Flames.
Tkachuk was especially dialed in the whole night. He was throwing hits, making skilled plays, protecting the puck, and engaging in scrums after the whistle. He was built for playoff hockey, and he was thriving in this game start to finish.
At the end of the first period, Tkachuk knocked own John Klingberg with a massive hit behind the Stars net, and then fought Michael Raffl right afterwards. A secondary fight broke out between Rasmus Andersson and Klingberg, and since any secondary fight warrants automatic an automatic ejection, both Andersson and Klingberg were tossed from the game. It was unfortunate for the Flames to lose their top pairing defenseman, but it appeared that the two players didn’t fully understand the rule. If they did, it’s unlikely they would have dropped the gloves.
The second period was much like the first. It was filled with strong play from the Flames, lots of hitting, and lots of penalties. No goals were scored, however, and the Flames headed to the third period with a 1-0 lead.
In the third period, both teams played a much tighter and cleaner game. The Stars pushed back but were unable to generate too many high danger chances, and Markstrom shut the door the whole way.
He registered a his first shutout of the season and 10th overall including the regular season, and the Flames earned a 1-0 series lead. Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday night at the ‘Dome.
Visualisations from the game are below!
All situations Shot Attempts
5v5 Shot Attempts
Do you have any feedback or suggestions? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.