In a 1-1 series, the team that goes on to win Game 3 tends to take the series two out of every three times in the NHL. That’s what was at stake tonight when the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames faced off just 24 hours after the puck dropped on Game 2.
Overall, the first period was pleasantly surprising given that both teams played less than 24 hours before. On the second half of a back-to-back, quite often most teams would take a scoreless game after the first 20 minutes, much like the Stars did tonight.
Dallas came out a little bit better than Calgary, with their best chance of the period coming off a Tyler Seguin shot that hit the joint where the pipe and crossbar meet. Instead of hitting iron and going in, the puck decided it wasn’t ready to go home, adding to Seguin’s string of bad luck in the goal scoring department.
As the period moved on, Calgary started to get some better looks in the offensive zone themselves, evening out the shots on goal compared to the 6-2 deficit they faced at one point in the opening minutes. However, Dallas seemed to have good defensive positioning to control rebound opportunities and cut off the chances of the Flames to pounce on loose pucks. Whatever they couldn’t clean up was easily handled by Anton Khudobin.
Each team had a power play opportunity in the first period, though neither really did much with it. For the Stars, they had a couple of decent looks and spent a lot of the time in the offensive zone. On the Flames’ chance at the man advantage, the Stars put on a veritable clinic of penalty killing, keeping them from setting up in the offensive zone. In fact, there was quite a bit of time where Mattias Janmark skillfully ran out some clock by keeping the opponent busy in their own zone by playing keep away.
For roughly half of the middle frame, it was a lot of the same for both teams.
Then, the Stars got their second power play of the game, an area where they really need to improve in the playoffs. This was the polar opposite of the first power play, however. Dallas again, for the 11th straight game, allowed the first goal of the game into their own net. This was the second game in a row that the Stars have allowed a shorthanded goal. It’s quite an unusual stat for the usually defensively stout Dallas squad that allowed just four shorthanded goals in the regular season (tied for fourth best in the league).
Outside of the shorthanded goal, the Flames basically weren’t even sniffing the offensive zone in the second period:
Stars in the second period at all strengths, per @NatStatTrick.— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) August 15, 2020
Shot attempts: 33-6
Shots on goal: 14-3
Scoring chances: 17-1
Expected goals: 1.18-0.22
But this is the Dallas Stars of 2019-2020, so of course they would go into the third period with a 1-0 deficit thanks to their efforts.
Something weird did happen at the end of the period, though. Blake Comeau, out of frustration, chopped his stick against the curved piece of glass by the Stars bench. It shattered right as Dallas drew their fourth power play opportunity of the night. It could have been a delay of game call against the Stars but they got away with it.
With just 38.1 seconds left in the period, the referees decided to have the glass replaced during the intermission and then play those seconds on the other side of the break so that the glass could be fixed. It makes sense logically: you wouldn’t want to take 5-10 minutes to replace the glass to then play 38 seconds and take an 18 minute intermission.
Dallas ran off the 38.1 seconds of the remaining time from the second period before a buzzer went off and the game halted. They then resumed the start of the actual third period time with a center ice faceoff. It’s 2020.....things are weird now. In theory, it should have given Dallas a bit of an advantage as they got a clean sheet to start their power play on. It’s no wonder the Flames coaching staff resisted this decision a bit more than that behind the Dallas bench, as it put them at a bit of a disadvantage than would have happened under different circumstances.
The power play ended up being a non-factor in the outcome of the game, however.
John Klingberg had a beautiful look at the net as the second period “wound down” with a fresh sheet of ice for Dallas which could have tied the game. Instead, he put it off the side of the net, and the Stars will left chasing the tying goal as the clock started to transition from friend to enemy.
Another power play chance by the Flames in the third period provided Dallas with yet another solid kill, one of the bright spots of the game tonight.
Unfortunately, as time ticked away, the Stars should have been winn ing this game. But the scoreboard did not reflect that. Calgary extended their lead to two goals with a little less than nine minutes left in the game. It was a seeing-eye shot that got through traffic in front of Khudobin’s net. Though the Stars netminder was bumped as a result of his own defenseman pushing a Flame into him, the puck was all but in the net before that contact even occurred. The Stars didn’t even think about challenging the goal as a result.
Anton Khudobin speaks for us all on 2020: pic.twitter.com/czPGUTAt2o— Seth Rorabaugh (@SethRorabaugh) August 15, 2020
Miro Heiskanen, the Game 2 hero for the Stars, drew his second power play of the game with a little over six minutes in the game to give the Stars another chance with the man advantage. Much like other opportunities since getting to the bubble, the Stars were once again unable to take advantage of the chance afforded to them.
Seguin once again had a stellar opportunity right in front of the net late in the period, and was once again denied.
With a little over three minutes left in the game and down two goals, the Stars pulled Khudobin for the extra attacker in an effort to try to find a way to get close to tying this one. Nothing could get past the Flames netminder to get the Stars back into the game.
Cam Talbot absolutely was the difference in the outcome of this one. Without his outing, there’s really no way Dallas doesn’t come up with a win in this one. They out-possessed and out-chanced the Flames. They should have won.
Instead, they’ll have to try to be one of those teams that wins the series one out of every three times.
It’s 2020. Weirder things have happened.