The Calgary Flames returned to the Saddledome looking to get the edge on the Dallas Stars in their series. After a gut-checking, identity-restoring win in Game 4, the Flames had momentum on their side and had a prime opportunity to regain the series lead on home ice.
Going with 11 forwards and seven defencemen again, the Flames were expected to see their lines change throughout the game, and even started the game with the line of Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane, and Blake Coleman—one of the best even strength lines in the league from the regular season.
The opening 20 minutes of the game was extremely low-event. It wasn’t a game of volume for either team at this point, and it was right back to being the quietest series in terms of action.
The difference in the first however, was that the Stars had better scoring chances and Jacob Markstrom was as sharp as ever; whereas the Flames were struggling to establish anything in the offensive zone and Jake Oettinger had a light workload.
The period ended knotted at zero in classic Flames versus Stars fashion.
In the second period, the Flames started to play into the game of quantity and sent everything they could towards the net. However, their quality was lacking and they once again weren’t very effective at making Oettinger work for his saves. If anything, Calgary made it far too easy for Dallas (or Dallas made it too hard for the Flames?).
It could have easily been a soul-crushing goal by the Stars as it was a came at a point where the Flames were starting to look deflated. But instead the Flames took it as a wakeup call and held the Stars to zero shot attempts after their goal.
Dallas maintained their lead heading into the second intermission. Calgary needed to spark a comeback or risk heading back to Texas backed into a corner.
The Flames took the momentum they built closing out the second period right into the third, and started to paly with much more tenacity while not looking panicked nor flustered.
It paid off too, as just before the seven minute mark, Mikael Backlund tied the game up for the loudest collective sigh of relief the city of Calgary has ever heard.
With the aforementioned second line of Backlund, Mangiapane, and Coleman in the offensive zone, the forwards quickly cycled the puck behind the net and Mangiapane sent the puck towards the crease for an easy tap in by Backlund.
This line wasn’t done either. A few minutes later, Backlund set Mangiapane up with a zone entry with time and space, and Mangiapane scored his first playoff goal in emphatic fashion. A flexed stick, a laser of a shot, and a bar-down goal that echoed throughout the arena, and just like that the Flames had their first lead of the game.
The Flames continued to push and didn’t even allow the Stars to establish any semblance of a pushback. A penalty to Oliver Kylington didn’t faze them either as the Flames’ penalty kill held Dallas to zero shots in the critical man-advantage (and also to just two shots over three power plays).
The Flames secured the comeback victory with a third period for the ages. Coincidentally, their first third period comeback of the season came against Dallas back in February. This was the best déjà vu the Flames could have conjured.
Check out the data visualisations from the game below!
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