Flames Post-Game: Stars fade, Flames clinch division in tight game
Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 year ago
Thursday night’s game between the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars was, as far as potential playoff previews go, a bit sloppy. Both teams have played a ton of hockey lately and their execution wasn’t great overall. But the Flames managed to battle and execute a little bit better than their visitors, and they were rewarded for it.
The Flames scrapped their way to a 4-2 victory over the Stars.
It was a tight checking game early on, as two teams both playing their third game in four nights tried not to make too many mistakes. Each team had some good looks and each goaltender had to be sharp, but the period lacked much flow with a bunch of penalties back and forth disrupting the game’s momentum.
Shots were 11-11 (9-6 Stars at five-on-five) and scoring chances 6-2 Stars in the first period.
After another back-and-forth period without much flow, the Flames broke the deadlock in the middle of the period. On the power play, after Jacob Markstrom had collided with Radek Faksa behind the Flames net, Matthew Tkachuk spun and fired from Jake Oettinger’s right, beating him between the legs and giving the Flames a 1-0 lead. It was Tkachuk’s 40th goal of the season and 100th point of the season.
But just 1:47 later, with Erik Gudbranson in the box of punishment, the Stars tied it up. After a face-off win, Jason Robertson fired a shot from the side boards that eluded Markstrom – it may have been redirected by Joe Pavelski, replays were inconclusive – and that made it a 1-1 game.
The Flames nearly answered back later on, but Oettinger anticipated a passing play well and absolutely robbed Elias Lindholm.
Shots were 13-8 Flames (10-6 Flames at even strength) and scoring chances 11-7 Flames in the second period.
The Flames retook the lead 20 seconds into the opening period. Tyler Toffoli leaned into a shot that wired past the Stars net. But the rebound went to Noah Hanifin at the point and the blueliner did the smart thing and put a wrist shot on net from the left point. The puck took a bounce – there were a body or two between Oettinger and the shooter, which likely made tracking a challenge – and the bounce eluded Oettinger and found a way into the Stars net to give the Flames a 2-1 advantage.
But Dallas took advantage of an errant Flames pass and tied the game up. A pass trickled past the Flames at the offensive blueline and rookie Fredrik Karlstrom grabbed it and headed towards the Flames net. Rasmus Andersson nearly broke up the scoring chance, but Luke Glendening came in as the trailer and beat Markstrom with the loose puck to tie the game up at 2-2.
But the Flames re-retook the lead a little later. They won an offensive zone face-off and Chris Tanev flung the puck from the point towards the net. The shot bounced off Glendening, battling with Mikael Backlund out front, and past Oettinger to give the Flames a 3-2 lead.
Andrew Mangiapane added an empty netter to give the Flames a 4-2 victory.
Shots were 13-4 Flames (5-4 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 5-1 Stars in the third period.
Why the Flames won
Both teams were playing their third game in four nights, in three different cities, with travel. They looked fatigued at times and their execution was a bit iffy, even if both teams played with smart structure. The sloppiness led to penalties and scoring chances in both directions, which made this game fairly entertaining.
The Flames were a little bit better at execution overall, though, and their key players were a tad better than Dallas’ key players. In a fairly evenly matched game, that was enough to give the locals the edge and the two points.
Let’s give this to Hanifin, who gave the Flames a ton of momentum with his goal to open the third period. He also had a ton of shots and scoring chances from the blueline.
Honourable mention to Lindholm, who was absolutely snakebit but generated a lot of good looks, and Markstrom, who was sharp when he needed to be.
The turning point
The Flames never trailed in this game, but Tanev’s go-ahead goal in the waning minutes of the third period gave the Flames sufficient daylight to lock down the victory.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
The Flames took two bench minors for too many men in this game. That gives them 12 on the season, two shy of Toronto for the league lead in that category.
The Flames (48-20-10) are back in action on Saturday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks. It’s an 8 p.m. MT puck drop.
The Flames have clinched a playoff spot and top spot in the Pacific Division.
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