The Calgary Flames hosted the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night in the Saddledome in Game 1 of their first round playoff series. The Flames looked good early but then managed to muddle through a game that became more defined by ample special teams time than for scoring chances.
The Flames got an early lead and managed to hang on, grinding out a 1-0 victory over Dallas to take a 1-0 series lead.
The Flames had great energy in the first period, forechecking well and pressuring the Stars. That led to a Stars penalty and a Flames power play, as Jani Hakanpaa hit Blake Coleman high during a Flames offensive zone foray.
With Hakanpaa in the penalty box, the Flames didn’t need too long to cash in. Elias Lindholm won a faceoff, the Flames made a few passes, and Lindholm buried a one-timer feed from the slot (set up by Matthew Tkachuk) past Jake Oettinger and that gave the Flames a 1-0 lead.
The Flames carried play for much of the opening period. Dallas’ first shot didn’t come until 11:06 into the period.
Late in the period, a Tkachuk hit on John Klingberg behind the Stars net led to some chaos at the buzzer. Michael Raffl initiated a fight with Tkachuk, followed by Klingberg initiating a fight with Rasmus Andersson. Klingberg and Andersson were both ejected from the game for engaging in a secondary altercation.
Shots were 11-3 Flames (9-1 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances were 5-3 Flames in the first period.
Neither team scored in the second period, though both teams had their looks.
The best chance for either team was likely an actual goal that Coleman put past Oettinger that got immediately waved off because right before that, Coleman knocked down Miro Heiskanen in front of the net… which led to Coleman being open to score in the first place. Whoops.
Shots were 11-9 Stars (6-4 Stars at five-on-five) and scoring chances were 2-2 in the second period.
Both teams had their chances in the third period, but neither was able to bury anything. Dallas pulled Jake Oettinger for the extra attacker, but the Flames managed to defend well, prevent any good scoring chances, and hold on for the Game 1 victory.
Shots were 6-3 Flames (all at five-on-five) and scoring chances were 4-4 in the third period.
Why the Flames won
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, pals. Man, there were a lot of penalties in this game. Both teams’ penalty kills were good. Both teams’ goaltenders were good. When the game was at even strength, the Flames carried the play, but the game’s transition into special teams mania favoured Dallas and got the Flames out of their flow.
That said, the Flames managed to get comfortable playing in the muck – particularly their third and fourth lines – and they managed to defend well and grind out a victory. The Flames defended well, and they maintained their composure a little better than Dallas did.
Let’s go with Chris Tanev. With no Andersson due to his ejection, Tanev played a lot of hockey over the last 40 minutes of this game. He was superb and a huge stabilizing presence for the Flames in this hockey game.
The turning point
Let’s go with the third period. The Flames only allowed three shots while defending a one goal lead in the playoffs. All-told, that’s a very tidy bit of third period hockey.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
This was Oliver Kylington’s first NHL playoff game. It was Milan Lucic’s 125th NHL playoff game.
The start of the third period was delayed slightly due to some unspecified ice issue. The zambonis came out a second time.
To nobody’s great shock, this game was a sellout of 19,289 fans at the ‘Dome. Roughly 18,000 of them were wearing red.
These two teams will do this all again on Thursday. Game 2 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series will take place at the Saddledome and begin at 8 p.m. MT.
The Flames lead this best-of-seven series 1-0.