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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways from the Calgary Flames’ Game 7 win over the Dallas Stars

After failing to close out their first round series with the Dallas Stars in Wednesday’s Game 6, the Calgary Flames did so on Friday in Game 7… in dramatic fashion. They defeated the Stars by a 3-2 score in overtime, off a game-winning goal from Johnny Gaudreau, to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Here are five takeaways from Game 7.

Let’s talk about Matthew Tkachuk

Tkachuk wasn’t bad in the first six games of this series, but he wasn’t a difference-maker. Especially not as much as you would hope to see from the team’s highest-paid player and an alternate captain. Well, Tkachuk was really, really good in Game 7.

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He was engaged. He was feisty. He was tactical. He executed a superb shot on the second Calgary goal and made a really smart play, eating a check to get the puck to Elias Lindholm, on the overtime winner. It was a big game, and Tkachuk stepped up and produced a series of big moments.

The shooting gallery

In Flames history, there have been games where they simply didn’t have anything in the tank for Game 7. This was not one of those games. They barraged Jake Oettinger with shots. Here’s the heat map (at five-on-five alone) via Natural Stat Trick:

Oettinger was the main reason the Stars took this to seven games, and he was the main reason this thing was even close. At five-on-five, Dallas was out-shot 58-26, out-chanced 57-22 and out-high-dangered 22-8. Expected goals were 5.49-2.66 in favour of Calgary at five-on-five and 6.75-2.91 overall in favour of Calgary – meaning Oettinger stole 3.75 goals from the Flames.

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They won anyway.

Let’s talk about Jacob Markstrom

Oettinger will get the fanfare from this series – and rightfully so – but let’s stop for a moment to rave about the Flames’ netminder. Markstrom was superb in Game 7, with the two goals against he gave up being a Noah Hanifin giveaway 40 seconds into the game and an excellent passing sequence by the Stars in the second period. That’s it.

In the third period and the first chunk of overtime, the Flames were a bit flat-footed and Dallas had a ton of great scoring opportunities. Calgary’s netminder shut the door, providing the foundation for the overtime heroics.

With a lesser performer in between the pipes, this story has a less fun ending for Flames fans.

Three cheers for Stone and Zadorov

With Chris Tanev injured, Michael Stone played regular minutes and Nikita Zadorov played huge minutes. Stone played 21:30 after playing (a) an average of 17:27 in the regular season (b) in just 11 games. Zadorov played a team-leading 28:42 after averaging 16:55 in the regular season.

Are either perfect players? Nope! Are either likely to have received Norris Trophy consideration? Likely not. But both players were excellent in their roles in a key game.

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One final thought on the Dallas Stars

The big takeaway from the series for many was how damn good Oettinger for Dallas and we knew about their veterans like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Joe Pavelski. But so many of the Stars’ younger players are sneaky good. Sure, we had heard about Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson, but guys like Michael Raffl, Vladislav Namestnikov, Esa Lindell and Joel Kiviranta really stood out, too. Give that group a year or two to percolate a bit, and maybe add in another piece or two, and they could be a force in the Central Division.

Onto the next round!

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