It was a typical Dallas Stars game.
The Calgary Flames scored first (as per tradition) on a power play goal by Dillon Dube against Anton Khudobin, who got the nod in net ahead of a healthy Ben Bishop. Dube then scored his second of the evening with a couple minutes left, putting the Stars down 2-0 after 20 minutes.
A bizarre nine-second sequence in the middle frame saw the Stars tie it up with two consecutive goals, although the NHL kept changing their minds about who exactly scored the goals. That joy was short-lived, however, as Rasmus Andersson soon found the net to put the Flames up by one again.
Calgary then held onto that lead for the entire third period, with the Stars managing just two shots on net for roughly 12-13 minutes. A delay-of-game penalty in the final minute by Mark Giordano, the Flames’ best defender, gave the Stars an excellent opportunity to tie it up, but they failed to do so. There would be no quadruple overtime in Rogers Palace:
The Flames win the first game of Round 1, even though their game started 2 1/2 hours after the first gam of round 1.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) August 12, 2020
If you want to look at the silver lining, it was a rather close game, with neither team really dominating play. A pessimist will point out, however, that the Stars’ lone goals were mostly luck-based, whereas the Flames scored with skill. Stephen Johns also exited the game early due to injury, and his partner, Andrej Sekera, had a game he would very much like to forget.
That all being said, it’s a seven-game series. The Flames take Game 1, but there’s still plenty of hockey left to be played.
The game began without much fanfare, with each team taking turns making the occasional shot on net. The best early scoring opportunity came five minutes in when Miro Heiskanen set up Denis Gurianov for a point-blank shot, which sadly rang off the post.
Roughly 10 minutes in, Alexander Radulov went to the box for interference. Eighty seconds later, Milan Lucic made the Stars pay by finding a wide-open Dillon Dube on the rush, who proceeded to score with a one-timer:
Lucic ➡️ Dube ➡️ NET— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 11, 2020
The @NHLFlames take a 1-0 lead and that's a five-game points streak for Milan Lucic. #NHLonSN pic.twitter.com/NhhgL8iMjG
Corey Perry soon tried to spark a fire in his teammates by fighting Matthew Tkachuk, which was a good trade-off from the Stars’ perspective. A couple minutes later, Dube went to the box himself after delivering a cross-check from behind that sent Jason Dickinson to the locker room.
This being the Stars, they of course didn’t score on the power play. Dube then had a breakaway opportunity, but shot it straight into Khudobin’s chest. He wouldn’t be denied again, however, as he later undressed Andrej Sekera and Khudobin to get his second of the period:
Dillon Dube with both @NHLFlames goals so far! #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/CSivp85Uev— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) August 11, 2020
That would be it for the period, and the Stars headed to the locker room down 0—”Du”.
Score: Dallas 0, Calgary 2
Shots: Dallas 7, Calgary 12
The first half of the middle frame was rather uneventful — the Stars were outshooting the Flames by a decent margin, but they were mostly low-scoring opportunities from a distance.
But sometimes, all you need to do to score is “spray and pray.” Eleven minutes in, a shot by Gurianov ricocheted off of Joe Pavelski’s elbow and past Cam Talbot to put Dallas on the board:
Denis Scorianov #GoStars pic.twitter.com/Z1amsJ3SGF— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) August 11, 2020
Nine seconds later, Jamie Benn scored from the blue line to tie it up, setting a franchise record for the shortest time between goals in playoff history.
Alexander Radulov— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) August 11, 2020
This short burst of goals made Stars fans everywhere happy, which is of course unacceptable. Thus Rasmus Andersson reestablished the status quo by shooting the puck off of Sekera’s stick and past Khudobin into the corner pocket:
Rasmus Andersson bears down on Andrej Sekera and it goes top corner on Khudobin to give the Flames the lead back.— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) August 11, 2020
DAL 2 - 3 CGY // P2 pic.twitter.com/paMahR9K6b
After that, not much else happened for the remaining four minutes, and the Stars would finish the second down by only one.
Score: Dallas 2, Calgary 3
Shots: Dallas 19, Calgary 19
Four minutes into the third, the Stars had a 3-on-1 against the Flames with a chance to tie it up. Unfortunately, Radulov opted to hold onto the puck instead of passing, and after some hesitation, his shot on net was stopped by Talbot.
It took another eight-and-a-half minutes for the Stars to register their second shot on goal. Despite trailing by one, the Stars struggled to generate offense until the final five minutes or so. The Flames were more than happy to sit and protect their lead, outshooting the Stars but not by much.
Khudobin was pulled with roughly a minute remaining to give Dallas the extra skater, at which point Mark Giordano accidentally shot the puck out of play and received a delay-of-game penalty. That gave Dallas 50 seconds of 6-on-4 action, but it wasn’t enough — Dallas couldn’t out a third past Talbot, and Calgary took Game 1.
Final Score: Dallas 2, Calgary 3
Final Shots: Dallas 26, Calgary 26
Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday, August 13 at 9:30 p.m. CT.