Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames Post-Game: The comebacks are bigger in Texas, Flames rally to beat the Stars
By Ryan Pike3 months ago
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The Calgary Flames’ visit to American Airlines Center to face the Dallas Stars was a tale of two games, really. In the first half, the Flames took penalties at poor times, turned over the puck too often, and didn’t get the saves they needed. In the second half, the Flames seemed to flip a switch and tidy things up considerably.
After trailing by two goals midway through the second period, the Flames rallied to beat the Stars by a 7-4 score.
Just 73 seconds into the opening period, Dallas scored a goal off an odd-man rush. Jamie Benn and Wyatt Johnston went in against Nikita Zadorov, and Johnston’s shot beat Jacob Markstrom just under his arm to make it 1-0 Dallas.
The Flames battled back, though, and had a bunch of strong scoring opportunities off the rush as they tried to draw even in the game. Eventually, one of them went in. Dillon Dube had an initial scoring chance that he couldn’t quite pull the trigger on, but he threw the puck into the net-front area and A.J. Greer – going to the net for the secondary chance – jammed the loose puck past a prone Jake Oettinger to tie the game up at 1-1.
But before the period’s end, Dallas answered back off a Flames turnover. This time, captain Mikael Backlund’s pass out of the zone didn’t quite make it and was intercepted by Nils Lundkvist at the blueline. A pass later and Jason Robertson was given a bit of time to get a shot off from an awful angle, with just a small bit of daylight available over Markstrom’s shoulder short-side. But Robertson sniped it, somehow finding that small space, and that gave the Stars a 2-1 lead.
First period shots were 11-6 Stars (8-6 Stars at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 9-9 (high-dangers were 6-5 Flames).
Early in the second period, the Flames tied things up once again. This time, the Flames headed up ice with a three-on-two advantage. Andrew Mangiapane, Elias Lindholm and Yegor Sharangovich engaged in some precision passing while in movement, ending with Sharangovich firing a shot past Oettinger to tie things up at 2-2.
But Dallas took the lead (for the third time in this game) shortly afterwards. Johnston was given a bit too much space after a zone entry – he was the only guy entering the zone against three Flames defenders – and he took advantage by going to the high slot and firing a shot. His shot beat Markstrom high blocker-side to give the Stars a 3-2 lead.
A little later, with Mikael Backlund in the penalty box, the Stars padded their lead. The Dallas power play group engaged in some really effective passing, ending with Joe Pavelski receiving a cross-slot pass from Matt Duchene and beating Markstrom with a shot from just outside the slot to give Dallas a 4-2 lead.
The Flames got a power play of their own slightly after that. They didn’t score, but they generated four shots and a good deal of momentum. A little after the man advantage ended, the Flames cashed in off the rush. Adam Ruzicka accepted a pass from a pinching Chris Tanev, crept into the high slot and fired a shot that beat Oettinger glove-side to cut Dallas’ lead to 4-3.
Second period shots were 12-6 Flames (7-3 Flames at five-on-five) while five-on-five scoring chances were 5-3 Stars (high-dangers were 1-0 Flames).
The Flames had some jump to their game late in the second period and it carried over to the third frame. They scored a pair of quick goals early in the period to grab the lead.
First, a MacKenzie Weegar point shot was partially blocked in the slot area by Jamie Benn. But the puck trickled past Benn right to Blake Coleman, parked beside the crease, and he swept the puck past Oettinger to tie the game up at 4-4.
A mere 29 seconds later, the Flames grabbed their first lead of the proceedings. Sharangovich’s initial shot was not-quite gloved by Oettinger – he was moving laterally and maybe misjudged the shot – and Lindholm beat out Ryan Suter to the loose rebound and jammed it past Oettinger to give Calgary a 5-4 lead.
The Flames gave themselves some insurance midway through the third period. Markstrom made a big stop on Johnston at one end and the play went the other way. Connor Zary gained the offensive zone, protected the puck and waited for reinforcements, and then threw a saucer pass into the slot area for Backlund. Backlund chipped the puck past Oettinger to give the Flames a 6-4 lead.
The Stars pulled Oettinger for the extra attacker with 3:11 remaining in regulation, but Nazem Kadri added an empty netter to make it a 7-4 Flames lead. They held on for the road victory.
Third period shots were 10-8 Stars (9-7 Stars at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-8 (high-dangers were 3-3).
Why the Flames won
First, the bad. The Flames’ puck management needs to be tidied up. They were playing against a deadly rush team in the Stars that can take your mistakes and make you pay for them. And if you look at the goals the Flames gave up, they served up a few of them on a platter to Dallas’ best players.
But at even strength, the Flames found ways to stick with it, play their game and make life difficult for Dallas with speed, passing, and fast passing. They’ve played better games, but they managed to improve over the course of three periods and find ways to get chances, get rebounds, and cash in. The moments of poor judgment that were frequent in the first 30-ish minutes were reduced considerably in the second half, and that was the key to things falling into place.
We’ve heard head coach Ryan Huska talk about resiliency, and that was on display in Dallas. The Flames chased for two-thirds of this hockey game, but they didn’t quite allow Dallas to pull away and they never really folded in the manner that we’ve seen them do in the past.
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Let’s give it to the fourth line! Dillon Dube, A.J. Greer and Adam Ruzicka were consistently good across all three periods, which helped give the Flames a bit of daylight when they trailing (and gave the rest of the team time to find their respective mojos).
And stick-taps to some strong individual performers: Coleman and Sharangovich.
The Flames were all over Dallas early in the third period, scoring twice in the opening 2:22. That push swung the game in Calgary’s favour and they didn’t let it go from there.
This and that
Connor Zary returned to the Flames’ lineup after missing the previous game with a minor injury.
The Flames spent American Thanksgiving at Blake Coleman’s in-laws’ house. This was Coleman’s 11th regular season game in his home state. His third period goal was his first regular season goal in Dallas.
The Flames (8-9-3) head to Denver overnight. They face the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night to close out their road trip.
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