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Stars beat Flames 4-2 in Game 3

Behind timely goal scoring and strong net-minding the Dallas Stars downed the Calgary Flames 4-2. The win pushes the Stars to a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 on Monday night.

Calgary Flames v Dallas Stars - Game Three Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

American Airlines Center hosted its biggest hockey game in over three years when the Dallas Stars hosted the Calgary Flames on Saturday night for game three of their first round series. Dallas looked to follow up their gritty game two victory with another solid performance as the series shifted back to Dallas. The opportunity in front of Dallas on Saturday was clear: home ice advantage and a clear shot at grabbing momentum in the series.

Key to that effort would be the continued stellar play out of goaltender Jake Oettinger. The second year net-minder came into the contest sporting a playoff leading 0.50 goals-against-average and .982 save percentage. On top of those gaudy numbers was a pivotal shut-out performance to help the Stars steady themselves with a split in Canada. However, the Stars have had to take stock of the offensive portion of the game after going a combined 0-9 on the power-play in games one and two.

If the Stars were to wrestle away a pivotal swing game in any series the club would need to build and improve in all areas of their game against a very good Flames team.

First Period Observations:

An early observation in game three was less to do with the play on the ice and more about the energy inside of the AAC. The Stars faithful were electric through warm-up, anthems, and the opening minutes. It’s incredible how the city of Dallas embraces playoff hockey without fail each time.

The first two minutes of the game were rather eventful and penalty filled. John Klingberg and Matthew Tkachuk continued their personal war against one another with a fight in the first ninety seconds of the game. On the following face-off Luke Glendening took an ill-advised cross checking minor in the blue paint handing the Flames the games first power-play. The early twelve minutes of combined penalties was a continuation of a parade to the penalty box that started in game one. The Flames power-play would be extinguished, continuing a strong stretch of penalty killing by the Stars.

Dallas found themselves in penalty trouble again due to a high-sticking minor on Joel Kiviranta. The Flames power-play would last four seconds because, Elias Lindholm committed an interference minor off of the zone-start for the Flames. The four-on-four portion of the game would offer little excitement and end, along with a short Dallas power-play, scoreless.

The game would go back to four-on-four almost immediately and Dallas would be the team to capitalize offensively. The Stars earned and won an offensive zone draw to the right of the Calgary net, Esa Lindell then received a pass from Miro Heiskanen and directed the puck towards the net. The puck deflected off of Radek Faksa and past the glove of Jacob Markstrom to open the scoring in the game, giving the Stars the early lead.

Calgary tied the game at one with the game approaching the five minute mark. The goal was scored by Trevor Lewis but, was not scored without plenty of controversy. Flames forward Milan Lucic went hard through the Dallas crease, knocking Oettinger over in the process. The Stars net-minder was unable to regain his positioning, allowing Lewis to score on an open net. The Stars would challenge the play but were unsuccessful in the attempt.

Mired in their power-play funk, Dallas would receive some form of justice a couple shifts later as Andrew Mangiapane was whistled for goaltender interference. The Stars power-play was unable to break the drought, falling to 0-10 on the series. The Stars set on the advantage was marginally better than what was on display in Calgary. The issues seemed to persist when it pertained to the Stars power-play being a step slower than the Flames killers. If that same problem continues, it would be tough to see the Stars breaking out of their woes anytime soon.

SOG:

Dallas 12 Calgary 12

Score:

Dallas 1 Calgary 1

Second Period Observations:

Calgary would come out in the second period and do a much better job on the puck than they had in the first. Their effort level jumped up a notch along the wall allowing them to cycle the Stars when they gained solid possession. With the period approaching the five minute mark the Flames top line executed a textbook low cycle, with Johnny Gaudreau feeding Lindholm with a perfect one-time pass in the slot. Lindholm made no mistake with the puck giving the Flames the lead early in the second period.

The Stars game began to show cracks, allowing the Flames to attack their blue-line with speed on the majority of the rushes up ice. Dallas’ time in the second period wouldn’t become any easier when Radek Faksa was called for interference, loading up a dangerous looking Calgary power-play. Once again Jake Oettinger was huge in net for the Stars, closing off the Flames shooters and keeping the Stars to within one in the hockey game.

On a grade A chance for the Stars, Flames net-minder Markstrom made one of the most incredible saves of this playoff season on Heiskanen on a wide open chance in front to keep the Flames lead intact. However, the Stars would be able to quickly regroup with the puck and the avengers line would break through for them. Joe Pavelski found a rotund rebound off of Markstrom’s pad and placed it behind the net-minder to tie the game. The roof quite literally blew off the building when the puck went in.

With the period reaching its final moments the Stars were handed a massive opportunity to take the lead when the Flames committed a tripping minor. The power-play would be the Stars third of the game and would carry over into the beginning of the third period.

SOG:

Dallas 24 Calgary 29

Score:

Dallas 2 Calgary 2

Third Period Observations:

Dallas started the third period with over a minute of carry over power-play time. However, the Stars would be unable to convert on that chance and dropped further into the pits of an 0-11 run in the series.

Following the Stars power-play the action shifted to the Stars end of the ice when Calgary started to make a push. Again, Calgary was hard on the puck along wall and using their speed to open up seams in the Stars defense. As was a theme for the Stars in the series it came down to Oettinger to mop up the messes in front and settle the game down. The beginning of the third period also saw a reduction in the amount of post whistle scrums. The two teams appeared to be much more focused on the task at hand rather than the after whistle activities.

As if the hockey gods were begging the Stars to score on the power-play, Plano native Blake Coleman committed a slashing minor that put the Stars back on the job. The first minute of the advantage was a mess for Dallas as they were unable to establish any kind of attack. However, the Stars would finally breakthrough when Joe Pavelski scored another goal off of a rebound chance from a Vlad Namestinkov shot. The goal came on the twelfth power-play of the series and twenty-eighth shot of the game.

Following the Stars goal the game would go back to four-on-four when public enemy number one, the affable John Klingberg and Mangiapane were sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. The minors would expire without incident to either side and neither side claiming any marketable chances offensively. Of note in the series the Stars Klingberg recorded thirty-four penalty minutes during the regular season. During the three games played in the post-season thus far he has been guilty for a total of twenty-eight.

A massive moment late in the period came when Jake Oettinger stared down Gaudreau on a clean breakaway. The Flames forward tried to go over the pad of Oettinger but was thwarted by a spiffy stop to keep the Stars in front. With an eyelash over ninety second to play in regulation the Flames brought Markstrom to the bench for the extra attacker. With forty-one shots on net, a series high, the Flames countered the Stars with their top line and defense corp. Jamie Benn nearly iced the game for the Stars when he narrowly missed the open Flames net. The play resulted in an icing call and a key defensive zone face-off. The Stars won the draw and were able to put the game away when Roope Hintz put the puck into the empty net.

Final:

Dallas 4 Calgary 2

Series: Dallas 2-1