There were a lot of contributors to the Dallas Stars earning a split in their series against the Calgary Flames with a 5-4 thrilling overtime win in Game 4. Perhaps the single biggest overlooked contribution was Tyler Seguin being able to acrobatically do the splits at the blueline and stay onside at the onset of the play that led to the dramatic tying goal by Joe Pavelski with 11.9 seconds left in regulation.
“I did whatever I could to stay onside and honestly once we scored and I went back to the bench I couldn’t really remember if I was onside or not,” Seguin replied while grinning during his postgame availability.
The goal by Pavelski was his third of the game and capped off what was a rollercoaster of emotions in regulation as both teams kept watching leads evaporate all afternoon. “I woke up feeling good (today),” said Pavelski during his postgame presser. That set the table for Alexander Radulov to score the game-winning goal with 3:55 left in overtime when he deflected a point shot from John Klingberg.
The Stars exposed the Flames on the winning play to perfection when Calgary defenseman Troy Brodie had his stick broken. After his teammate Dillion Dube gave Brodie his stick, the Flames still had one player without a stick and Dallas jumped all over that like a shark smelling blood in the water. It was a must-win game and they rose to the occasion.
“All the guys on the ice recognized that they had one man without a stick and we tried to use that to our advantage,” said Radulov after the game. Eventually, we got that goal and it feels good to bounce back.”
The Stars bouncing back guarantees us that we will see at least two more games in this series. Here are some things we liked, didn’t like, and really didn’t like about the memorable win.
A lot went right for the Stars in Game 4 and there were a lot of reasons to be happy if you’re a Stars fan. That investment in Pavelski last summer was well worth it as he played his best game of the series and probably as Star. He netted his first playoff hat trick (he has five career hat tricks in the regular season) and it was also the first playoff hat trick for the franchise since they relocated from Minnesota to Dallas. He also had a huge block on one of Johnny Gaudreau’s two prime-time chances in overtime minutes prior to the winning goal. More on that in a bit.
After a slow start in the first period, the Stars somehow managed to score the first goal of any game they have participated in during their time in the Edmonton bubble. They thoroughly outshot Calgary from the start of the second period, mainly because the Flames couldn’t stop taking penalties. Shots from in close, shots from far away, shots from the slot, shots from the wing, deflections, and redirections. 62 shots found their way to Cam Talbot’s net out of the 108 they attempted. Two of the five goals were on the power play, they scored another goal in the dying seconds with their goalie pulled, and they scored a goal that was disallowed due to incidental goalie interference.
“We had the attitude that we were going to find a way to win,” said Pavelski. “It took a while to get the game tied, but there was never a sense that we weren’t going to win once we got it to overtime.”
The big guns were out in full force for Game 4. In addition to Pavelski’s three goals, Klingberg had three assists, Seguin had two assists (his first two points in these playoffs), and Miro Heiskanen added another assist, now leading the team in postseason points with eight (2g-6a).
The inability to hold a lead is troubling. They led 1-0 and 2-1 in the game, but those leads lasted a total of 4:26 of gameplay. That’s how long they led in the entire game until they scored the winning goal.
With all due respect to Anton Khudobin (who was magnificent for most of the game), not having Ben Bishop available to play is also kind of troubling. Khudobin finished with 36 saves on the 40 shots he faced in the game, highlighted by the massive save he made on Gaudreau with 12:14 left in overtime that had the Calgary star looking to the sky for answers. No one knows when and if Bishop will be back, so they will need more performances like the one the got in Game 4 from their netminder.
Two minutes before Pavelski’s hat trick goal the Stars appeared to have tied the game via a shot by Jason Dickinson. But the Flames challenged the play and it was determined that Corey Perry had interfered with Cam Talbot. While it was deemed to be inadvertent and didn’t result in a penalty, it still wiped a potential tying goal for Dallas off of the scoreboard with 2:29 left in regulation.
“One of the things we preach is just staying in the moment. Control what we can control,” said interim head coach Rick Bowness after the game during his media availability. “Momentum swings are left, right, and center in the playoffs. If you get your momentum under control your gonna flow with it. We try to stay in the moment regardless of what’s going on out there.”
That could have been disastrous if Pavelski didn’t tie the game, and the Stars would have found themselves on the brink of elimination in Tuesday’s Game 5. But could have and would have didn’t matter after the late tying goal and winning marker in overtime.
“He’s a playoff performer as you know,” said Bowness when asked about Pavelski’s heroic performance. “(That’s) one of the reasons Jimmy (GM Jim Nill) went out and signed him. You’re seeing what he’s doing on the ice and I’m listening to what he’s saying in between periods and on the bench, which is just as important. He had a phenomenal game. He’s a pro and a playoff performer.”
“You know what was just as important? That blocked shot. That’s how you win hockey games, those little things that maybe go unnoticed to the public, but the bench sees it. You’re seeing the goals and we’re seeing all the little details of his game that are just as important.”
Special teams haven’t been very special for the Stars lately and that manifested again in Game 4. They surrendered two power-play goals to the Flames in the second period, and in the third period they gave up a shorthanded goal. That is Calgary’s third straight game with a shorthanded goal in the series and for a while, it looked like it would have been the second game in a row that a Flames shorthanded goal was going to be the winning goal. In the series, Calgary has a total of three shorthanded goals and four power-play goals.
It was the ultra-speedy Tobias Rieder who scored on the penalty kill for the second time in three games, giving him a total of three shorthanded goals in these playoffs. Rieder is only the seventh player in NHL history to do that and the first since Todd Marchant did it in the 1997 postseason. The three shorthanded goals also tie an NHL record for a single postseason and he is the first player in NHL history that’s scored his first three career playoff goals shorthanded.
“We came in here today to even the series. We played a good game the other day and didn’t get results,” said Pavelski. “This time of year it’s all about results. We put a big effort today and got the series tied 2-2.”
The series is now a best-of-three with the pivotal Game 5 to take place sometime on Tuesday, Game 6 will be on Thursday and if necessary, Game 7 will be played on Saturday.