The Calgary Flames played decently in the first two periods against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. But they played just poorly enough in specific situations to be down 3-1. But the Flames kept their workboots on, kept grinding, and scored three times in the last five and a half minutes of regulation to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against a key conference foe.
The Flames roared back for a 4-3 comeback win against Dallas.
The Flames opened the scoring in the first period off a nice sequence from the fourth line. Milan Lucic ate a hit on the boards just after the zone entry, allowing the puck to move ahead to Adam Ruzicka as they headed towards the net. Ruzicka waited out a sliding Joel Hanley, then passed to Trevor Lewis at the far post for a quick tap-in to give the Flames a 1-0 edge.
The lead did not last. The Stars got possession in the Flames zone and cycled a bit. Eventually Hanley fired a point shot that was deflected by Brett Ritchie in the high slot and began fluttering in the air, knuckleballing on Jacob Markstrom and evading his save attempt. That tied the game at 1-1.
Late in the first, Dallas took the lead. A strong shift for the Stars’ top line (and pairing) ended with Jason Robertson striding into the Flames zone and firing a shot towards the net while using Rasmus Andersson as a screen. Because of the screen, Markstrom couldn’t quite track the puck until it was too late… and behind him. That made it 2-1 Stars.
Shots were 11-6 Flames (9-6 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 10-9 Stars in the first period.
The second period was fairly even and back-and-forth. But Dallas carried play by a slight margin and were eventually rewarded with an insurance goal.
Tyler Seguin strode into the Flames zone and flung a puck towards the front of the net for Jamie Benn. Benn’s deflection was stopped by Markstrom. But with no defenders disrupting his follow-up, Benn collected the puck and chipped it past Markstrom off his own rebound to give the home side a 3-1 lead.
Shots were 17-12 Stars (12-11 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 9-5 Stars in the second period.
The Flames swapped out goalies to begin the third period, putting Dan Vladar in for Markstrom. Sure, some of it was score effects – Dallas hanging back a bit – but the Flames pressed and played well in the third, but couldn’t quite get the next goal.
Until they did, that is.
The Flames cut Dallas’ lead to 3-2 after the fourth line, led by Ruzicka, battled and pressed and cycled the puck. Dallas’ defenders got tired, the Flames managed a full change without leaving the offensive zone, and Noah Hanifin’s point shot was stopped by Jake Oettinger but Andrew Mangiapane batted in the rebound.
37 seconds later, the Flames tied it up. The top line battled down below the red line, with Matthew Tkachuk spinning off a check behind the net with a wrap-around attempt on Oettinger. It was blocked, but bounced right over to Johnny Gaudreau for the tap-in to tie the game up at 3-3.
The Flames grabbed the lead slightly later. Oliver Kylington stepped out of the penalty box and joined a Flames rush after a successful penalty kill. A passing sequence was finished off by Kylington beating Oettinger to give the visitors a 4-3 lead.
Shots were 18-5 Flames (17-3 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 12-0 Flames in the third period.
Why the Flames won
For two periods, the Flames couldn’t get much going below the circles in Dallas’ zone. Some defensive lapses – particularly on Dallas’ second and third goals – put them down a couple heading into the third period.
But give the Flames credit: sure, Dallas was sitting back with a two goal lead. But the Flames kept their wits about them, cycled the puck, wore Dallas down, and just played their game. They dug themselves a hole through 40 minutes, but they dug themselves out of it in the third period.
Let’s give it to the fourth line as a unit. They were splendid and their hard work set the tone for the team and directly led to the first and second Calgary goals.
The turning point
The Flames scored twice in a span of 37 seconds in the third period to tie the game up. Dallas seemed pretty shell-shocked after that.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
This was the Flames’ first win when trailing after one or two periods this season.
The Flames (22-13-6) are back in action tomorrow night in Glendale against the Arizona Coyotes. It’s their final game before the All-Star Break.
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