Calgary Flames fans were hopeful that the scoring would continue in Game 5 after the floodgates began to open in the third period of their 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars two nights prior. Through 40 minutes, it appeared that wasn’t going to be the case as they failed to generate much offence due to the Stars’ stingy defensive play paired with the rock-solid goaltending from Jake Oettinger.
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Things changed in a big way in the third period, however. First, it was Mikael Backlund who put home the tying goal off of a great feed from Andrew Mangiapane. Minutes later, Backlund returned the favor, showing great patience in the neutral zone before sending in Mangiapane on a great backhand pass, and the 26-year-old made no mistake as he was able to fire a terrific wrister past the glove hand of Oettinger. Darryl Sutter’s squad went on to shut things down for the remainder of the third before Trevor Lewis was able to seal the deal on an empty netter to help his team walk away with a 3-1 victory.
This series certainly hasn’t come easy for the Flames, as the Stars have played a much more structured game than anybody could have imagined coming in. With that being said, their backs are now up against the wall as they head back to Dallas on the brink of elimination. Here are the three main takeaways from the Flames’ thrilling Game 5 victory.
Flames’ Secondary Scoring Stepped Up
Through the first four games of this series, the Flames weren’t getting much offence from anybody aside from Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm. That changed in this game, as Mangiapane was able to snap out of his scoring funk while Backlund stepped up in a big way as well.
In order for the Flames to continue having success, that will need to continue. Though it hasn’t come as many expected early on, there is no reason to doubt that some others won’t be able to do the same moving forward, as this team has plenty of experienced players who have yet to produce in this series but have often in previous playoffs years, with names like Tyler Toffoli and Blake Coleman at the top of the list.
Key Saves from Markstrom
Though he wasn’t tested a ton, Markstrom once again did what he has done all season long, which is giving the Flames a chance to win each and every game he starts. The Vezina Trophy candidate allowed just one goal on the 21 shots he faced, coming off of the stick of Jason Robertson just past the midway point of the opening frame.
Markstrom’s biggest stop of the evening was a potential game saver, as he robbed Joe Pavelski who had an open look in the slot with just minutes remaining in the third period. It was quite possibly the last player on the Stars that the Flames would want to have that look, but the 30-year-old netminder was once again up to the task. He has allowed just six goals in four games and is undoubtedly one of the best in the business at his position.
Sutter’s Defensive Approach Paying Off
When Sutter was first hired in Calgary, many expected the Flames to have a great defensive approach but questioned whether or not they would put up much offence. Those thoughts are now a thing of the past, as they not only had one of the top lines in all of the NHL this season but also headed into the playoffs boasting four players with 35 or more goals.
As good as the offence was this season, however, their overall team defence was even better. Sutter has completely transformed this group into one that can win in many ways, whether it be a high-scoring affair or the very low-scoring contests we have seen in this series. That was proven once again in Game 5, as the Flames never once appeared rattled despite being held off the board through the first two periods. Not only were they then able to gain a lead in the third, but the way they continued to control the game things with their smart and safe approach was also picture perfect. This entire roster has completely bought into a team-first approach, and it is paying off in a big way.
Chance to Advance on Friday
By no means will it come easy, especially given the fact that they are on the road, but the Flames now have a chance to eliminate the Stars and advance to the second round on Friday night. Though their first road game of the series in Dallas didn’t go as planned, they were able to respond with a big 4-1 win on Monday and will look to do the same in Game 6. If they are able to play with the same intensity as they brought in Game 5, they will have a great chance to move on.