The Calgary Flames moved one win away from a trip to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Wednesday night when they beat the Dallas Stars 3-1. The Flames trailed 1-0 after two periods, but powered their way to a victory with a big third period.
Here are five takeaways from Game 5.
High-danger chances tell the tale
This was a game that was tight-checking and low event, but fundamentally Dallas controlled the key areas of the ice in the first period, the second period was even, and the Flames took over the game in the third period.
Via Natural Stat Trick, high-danger chances were 4-0 Dallas in the first period, 1-1 in the second period, and 4-0 Flames in the third period. It was a fairly low-event 5-5 game in terms of high-danger chances – only Game 4 really leapt off the page in this respect – but the swings are pretty evident in this stat line.
A very close series
After every game in this series, Flames head coach Darryl Sutter has commented on how tight-checking and close the games have been. That’s definitely the case, to an almost comedic degree.
The Flames and Stars have played 300 minutes of hockey through five games. 285:39 of that hockey has been played with the two teams tied or within a goal of each other on the scoreboard. That leaves just 14:21 of hockey – through five games, an average of roughly 2:22 per game – where either team had a lead of two goals or more.
That’s a close series.
The third period line shuffle
One of the things I liked about the Flames using 11 forwards and seven defenders in Game 4 was the fluidity it provided for their forward lines – aside from the top line, which remained untouched. Well, Sutter tinkered with that line in the third period, too.
The forward lines in the third period were:
- Gaudreau – Lindholm – Toffoli
- Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman
- Dube – Jarnkrok – Tkachuk
- Lucic – Lewis – rotating
Lucic played just one shift in the third period, with the team really leaning on the top three lines to provide pace and offence – Sutter’s rationale for moving Tkachuk down the rotation was getting more pace. The moves seemed to work, as the Flames generated tons of zone time, pace, scoring chances and goals in the final frame.
Tyler Toffoli is due
Is there any Flames player who has gotten more great chances in this series but been personally victimized by Jake Oettinger than Tyler Toffoli?
He led the Flames in shot attempts and scoring chances at five-on-five in Game 5. Toffoli is tied for second on the team (with Dillon Dube) in scoring chances this series at five-on-five and is second in expected goals, trailing only Johnny Gaudreau in those two metrics. His actual goals at five-on-five? Zero.
You kind of get the feeling, though, that eventually pucks are going to go in for Toffoli. They almost have to, unless he has the worst puck luck in the world.
Onto the next one
The Flames are back in action on Friday night in Dallas for Game 6, where they will try to advance past the first round for the first time since 2015 and just the second time since their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004.
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