The Calgary Flames rode a dominating performance to Monday’s Game 4 win that evened their Western Conference opening-round series with the Dallas Stars.
What remains to be seen is whether the Flames can keep the ball rolling when they play host to the Stars on Wednesday for Game 5 of the best-of-seven series that is tied 2-2.
“I think the momentum is we’re going home to play in front of our fans,” said forward Johnny Gaudreau, who tallied a penalty-shot goal in the third period of Calgary’s 4-1 victory.
“Now it’s a three-game series and we have two at home and one on the road. Obviously, a big win for us, but it’s been a tight series and we’ve got to do the same thing. … It’s going to be a big game.”
The Flames set a franchise record for shots on goal (54) in a non-overtime playoff game and scored more goals than they netted in the first three games combined.
However, the victory was a result of more than just shots.
The Flames used their speed and forecheck to crack the Stars’ defense and finally were rewarded. In short, they looked much like the squad that claimed the Pacific Division title.
“The only thing we get from the season is our foundation,” coach Darryl Sutter said. “That’s why when somebody talks about a loss or ‘What do you have to do different?’ … we don’t have to do anything different. Just have to do it again. That’s what’s it about.”
Calgary goalie Jacob Markstrom was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy on Tuesday, along with Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers and Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators.
As well as Markstrom has played, the goaltending focus has been on Dallas netminder Jake Oettinger, who has posted a 1.53 goals-against average and .960 save percentage in the series, including 50 saves in the Game 4 loss.
However, with the Flames outshooting the Stars in the series by a 150-106 margin, the Stars know they can’t continue to rely on Oettinger to keep them alive.
“He was the only reason we were in (Monday’s) game,” coach Rick Bowness said. “I told the coaches after the game we just wasted a great goaltending performance. Their guy made some big saves. He didn’t get a lot of them, but he made some big saves at the right time. Otter was outstanding.”
As for the rest of his team, Bowness made no bones about the fact their performance won’t cut it.
“Puck management was not very good. We were on the wrong side of them too many times in all three zones,” Bowness said. “We were very slow to close on them in the defensive zone, which is why they were able to cycle the puck as much.”
While much has been made about Calgary’s struggling offense, the Stars have been just as bad or even worse. Joe Pavelski has scored three of his team’s seven goals, with two of the other four tallied into empty nets.
Dallas is tied in the series despite giving up the vast majority of scoring opportunities and managing very little offense when the opportunity is presented.
“We just have to reset,” said veteran defenseman Ryan Suter. “We had the momentum. Now, they’ve got it. We’ve got to go get it back.”
–Field Level Media