The Calgary Flames were good at times, sometimes very good, but ultimately they found ways to lose on Saturday night against the Dallas Stars. Timely goals by Dallas – usually from Joe Pavelski – were teh deciding factor in a 4-2 Flames loss, giving the Stars a 2-1 series lead.
Here are five takeaways from Game 3.
Penalties disrupt the flow, again
The Flames are at their best when they can roll their lines, particularly their three top lines, and grind their opponents to a dust with depth and pace. In Game 3, Matthew Tkachuk got into a fight in the first two minutes and played just 13 seconds in the first 9:37 of the game. Losing a 100-point player isn’t ideal when you’re trying to set a tone offensively.
The game also featured 9:56 of four-on-four play, another disruption to the flow. Once again: the Flames need to stay out of the box and keep the game at five-on-five if they want to be effective.
We need to talk about face-offs
In Game 2, the Flames won just 42% of their face-offs. In Game 3, that improved to 48%. That’s better, but still not where they need it to be.
Moreover, the Flames still lost key draws at key times:
- Mikael Backlund lost a defensive zone draw to Radek Faksa that immediately led to the opening Dallas goal.
- Elias Lindholm lost three offensive zone draws late in the game with the goalie pulled… against three different Dallas players. Three. The Flames had a rough time getting late scoring chances in an effort to tie the game because they kept losing face-offs to Dallas.
The special teams battle
In Game 1, the Flames won the special teams battle and the game. In Game 2, it was a wash and the Flames lost a nail-biter. In Game 3, the Flames outright lost the special teams battle and the game. Funny how that works, eh?
Each team had four power-plays, though that counts a Flames advantage that was wiped out by a Lindholm penalty four seconds in. The Flames had 13 shots and eight high-danger chances on their power plays – that resulted in zero goals. Sure, Jake Oettinger was very good, but the Flames absolutely had to cash in on one of those oodles of chances if they wanted to win that type of game on the road.
They failed to score when they had these opportunities, and they failed to win.
Let’s praise Jacob Markstrom
Jacob Markstrom has allowed four goals in three games. Here’s a rundown of those four goals:
- A Pavelski deflection off a turnover (Game 2)
- A Faksa deflection off a point shot (Game 3)
- A Pavelski rebound off a point shot (Game 3)
- A Pavelski rebound off an initial shot (Game 3)
Aside from maybe slightly knocking his rebound control, what else can he be doing to give the Flames a chance? He has 65 saves on 69 shots, a very nice performance. He’s given the Flames everything they’ve needed from him.
Can they balance desperation with precision?
The Flames are a loss away from truly being on the ropes in this series. They don’t fundamentally need to change the way they’ve been playing, and throw out the baby with the proverbial bathwater, but the details of their game need to be better in a lot of key ways.
Can the Flames balance the necessary desperation and precision in their play in Game 4 and beyond? Unless they want the first round to be 10 days wasted, they need to flat-out find ways to win hockey games. And time is running low for them to figure out how to do that in this series.
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