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Afterwords: Breaking Down the Offense

Last night’s game featured 6 goals between the Dallas Stars and the Calgary Flames, twice as many as the number of goals from Game 1 and Game 2 combined. But even though the offense finally ticked up, the game was rather similar in many regards, giving us a more clear picture of how this series is shaping up. The takeaways so far:

  • Both teams are playing very physical — Calgary had the edge in Game 1, Dallas in Game 3 and both equal in between. In total, Dallas has 100 hits to Calgary’s 92.
  • As a side effect of the physicality, the referees are calling a lot of penalties. It’s been rather even so far, with Dallas posting 63 PIM to Calgary’s 61. In total, there have been 45 penalties called (~2.75 minutes each), and last night was the first time any had been called in the third period (3).
  • Despite all these penalties, special teams has been rather lack luster. Calgary has gone 1/12 on the power play, scoring on their first and going 0-for-11 since. Dallas has similarly gone 1/11, although they started 0-for-10 before finally scoring last night’s game-winner.
  • The Flames do not like John Klingberg — he was ejected in Game 1 for fighting, Matthew Tkachuk dropped the gloves with him roughly a minute into both Games 2 and 3, and then he got into another kerfuffle with Andrew Magianpane in the third last night. As a result, Klingberg has a team-leading 26(!) PIM, twice as many as Michael Raffl’s 13 (no other Stars player has more than 2).
  • The games have been close, with no team ever holding a two-goal lead (excluding empty netters). This is largely due to excellent goaltending on both sides of the ice — eleven goalies have started all three games for their team this postseason, and Jake Oettinger (.969) and Jacob Markstrom (.942) are 1st and 3rd in SV% among them./

That last point is particularly poignant — Dallas may have the 2-1 series lead, but the margin for error is razor thin. There have been plenty of weird bounces or deflections (especially last night), though we haven’t yet seen a “fluky” goal. All it takes is one, though, to potentially decide a game.

Since this game featured a handful of “real” goals, I figured we would change things up a bit and take a look at each of them, as well as a couple other solid scoring opportunities. We’ll go in chronological order:

Goalie’s Best Friend

Full disclosure: even though he made more saves than his first two starts, I thought this was actually a shakier performance overall by Jake Oettinger. Not that it was bad, mind you, just that he had a bit of trouble with his rebound control and was bailed out by a couple lucky bounces.

Case and point, this shot right here — Oliver Kylington beats Oettinger, but the puck rings off the post and right back onto his pad. Full credit to the Stars’ netminder, however, for immediately clamping down on his pad and pushing off to the side. We’ve all seen situations where a goalie has backed the puck up into the net because they aren’t sure where it is, but Oettinger has the foresight to move away.

Stars Goal #1: Radek Faksa Tip

This wasn’t exactly a set play off the faceoff, but it was pretty darn close. All four Stars players contributed to making this goal happen:

  1. After Faksa wins the faceoff, Denis Gurianov immediately recovers the puck and flips it back to Miro Heiskanen.
  2. With all but two players stacked on the (Stars’) right side, Heiskanen quickly passes it out to Esa Lindell.
  3. Lindell corrals the puck before taking a well aimed shot, which in turns gives Faksa time to get over in front of the net.
  4. Faksa does his best Joe Pavelski impression and expertly tips it past Jacob Markstrom.

Gurianov was the poor sap who didn’t get a point to show for it, but this was a total team effort and just a beauty of a goal.

Faksa Fishes for Two

Close, but no cigar — this was just a few minutes after Faksa gave Dallas the lead, and he almost extended it after getting sprung for a wraparound by Luke Glendening. Faksa had a really nice first period, and though he took a bad penalty in the second, he had a solid game overall.

Flames Goal #1: Goaltender Interference?

This was a controversial one, for obvious reasons. This article by Down Goes Brown last July made the rounds on social media after this goal, and was even referenced on Hockey Night in Canada. Essentially, goaltender interference comes down to whether or not the contact took place inside the crease. Milan Lucic knocked down Oettinger by his glove before he stepped into the crease, therefore it’s not interference and it’s a good goal.

Of course, you can argue that should be goaltender interference, but that’s how the league’s been calling it. For what it’s worth, this goal was 100% not on Oettinger — even if it was legal contact, he still had no way of recovering in time to stop it. And unless you want to blame him for being in a position where he could (and did) get knocked over and not get a penalty, this is just an unfortunate circumstance.

Flames Goal #2: All Alone

The other Flames goal, which also is hard to pin on Oettinger. The Stars make an ill-advised turnover from behind their own net, which brings the puck to Johnny Gaudreau. Oettinger is forced to take away the shot angle, so Gaudreau just passes it up to a wide open Elias Lindholm, who scored 42 goals for a reason. Dallas needs someone to either take up the passing lane or Lindholm’s shooting lane, and they’re unfortunately unable to do either.

That Save

Boy is this clip a beauty — Pavelski makes an incredible pass, but he gets one-upped by Markstrom, who performed absolute highway robbery on Heiskanen. This clip rightfully made the highlight reels, although it was quickly overshadowed by…

Stars Goal #2: Pavelski Mops Up

About ten seconds after that magnificent save, Heiskanen shoots the puck and Pavelski pounces on the rebound for his second of the series. Honestly, Markstrom had zero chance here — Heiskanen’s shot went through uninterrupted and thus hit Markstrom square in the pads, and even the quickest goalie in the world couldn’t have gotten to the puck before Pavelski.

Heiskanen Does All the Work

This is just a marvelous display of Heiskanen’s raw talent. After picking up the puck after the faceoff, he moves down the boards, is momentarily sandwiched by Mangiapane, then frees himself up for a shot up close and a rebound opportunity. It didn’t result in a goal, but this is the exact kind of offensive pressure Dallas was missing in Alberta.

A Penalty Draw For Your Troubles

Less than a minute later, we get another nice sequence. Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz are in perfect sync here, and the bounce off of Markstrom and then Hintz was one of those potential “fluky” goals that just didn’t happen. Hintz then immediately draws a penalty afterwards, although given the Stars’ power play performance up to that point in the series, that might have been a mistake.

Stars Goal #3: Pavelski Mops Up (Again)

Fast forward to the third period and the Stars are finally able to score on the power play. Much like his previous goal, Pavelski is able to pounce on a pad-save rebound and get it into the net. This was a nice play by Vladislav Namestnikov to aim for Markstrom pad, knowing the rebound beat him earlier (or, at least, I’m going to assume that was on purpose). Markstorm might have been able to catch the initial the shot with his glove, though, so this is probably one he’d like back.

Gaudreau Breakaway

I’m honestly surprised I didn’t see this clipped anywhere on Twitter. Although he did have some rough moments here and there, Oettinger was ultimately able to make saves within his control, and this was perhaps the biggest one yet. Gaudreau scored 40 goals and was T-2nd in total points among the Calgary roster, so this breakaway should have been the game-tying goal.

Instead, Oettinger stonewalls him, and now the media can’t stop talking about how Johnny Hockey “disappears” in the playoffs (nevermind his primary assist earlier). Guess not everyone can be an offensive juggernaut like Joe Pavelski.


After the Gaudreau breakaway, Dallas regained possession and reentered the offensive zone, where this happened. Heiskanen’s shot rings off the crossbar, Tyler Seguin is unable to connect with the bouncing puck, and then Markstrom is able to stop the ensuing follow-up shots by Seguin and Heiskanen. It ultimately didn’t matter, but the Stars were soooo close to icing this game with more than three minutes left.

You’ve probably noticed that Heiskanen’s name has popped up a lot in these highlights. The Finnish superstar was the best player on the ice last night, picking up two assists for his trouble and along with several scoring opportunities and (as always) strong defensive play.

He’s been the Stars’ second best player behind Oettinger this series, and honestly the gap isn’t as far as you might think. If the Stars are able to pull off the upset against Calgary, Heiskanen’s elite play will be one of the main reasons why.

Stars Goal #4: The Empty Netter

Not much to say here — it’s an empty netter. But kudos to Jani Hakanpää for taking a brief moment to look up ice and set up Hintz, rather than just blindly throwing it down the ice. It wouldn’t have made a difference, but I’m sure Hintz appreciates the stat padding.

Overall, a strong (and fun!) game by the Stars. And how about that playoff atmosphere in the American Airlines Center? Splitting the first two games essentially gave Dallas home-ice advantage in a five game series, and they capitalized with their first. Here’s hoping they can keep the momentum going and take a two-game lead on Monday.