The Dallas Stars lost their series-opening game to the host Calgary Flames, but the final score still gives them positive vibes heading into Thursday’s Game 2, also set for Calgary.
“We didn’t play our best game and we still lost 1-0, so we should feel confidence from that,” Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger said of Tuesday’s game. “I know the guys are going to respond.”
Despite how close the game was — Elias Lindholm’s power-play goal in the first period was the difference for the Flames — the Stars must elevate plenty of elements of their game when the puck drops.
The Stars were held to only three shots on goal in both the first and third periods, and they failed to convert on five power plays. Not only did the Stars fail to manage a shot on goal with their goalie pulled for an extra attacker in the last couple of minutes, but they were pinned in their own zone for the final 32 seconds.
“They took it to us, especially in the first 10 minutes,” forward Michael Raffl said.
Teams that win Game 1 have a 499-228 (68.8 percent) record in best-of-seven series. (Teams that start a series at home have a 344-114 record — 75.1 percent).
Clubs that take the first two games have a 337-52 (86.6 percent) mark.
For their part, the Flames don’t believe they gave their best game in the opener. As well as they played defensively, they were left lamenting plenty of missed opportunities.
“We can play better,” Lindholm said. “Our line, there was not much going on out there.”
Plus, they were guilty of taking a few unnecessary penalties. The perpetrators were fortunate that the yeoman’s work by the penalty kill unit and goaltender Jacob Markstrom kept Dallas off the board.
“I need to be more disciplined, stay out of the box, make sure I’m not putting my team in that situation,” said forward Blake Coleman, who was twice penalized in the second period. “You want to be physical and be a tough guy to play against. At the same time, you have to walk that line the right way. Eliminate those, maybe some of the too many men — things like that that are just mental mistakes — and we’ll be just fine.”
The opening-game fireworks are also something to follow going forward. In the aftermath of a Matthew Tkachuk check on John Klingberg, which resulted in a fight with Raffl, Klingberg in turn fought Calgary’s Rasmus Andersson (for which they were ejected), and had some pointed words about it.
“I’m not saying I’m a tough guy, but he’s acting tougher than he is,” Klingberg said of his decision to initiate the fight. “I feel like he’s the one guy there in the scrum, he doesn’t have a guy. I’m standing there with (Blake) Coleman and he’s standing and shaking his gloves to me, like he wants to go against me, probably the least fighter on our team on the ice there. l’m skating over to him, I’m dropping my gloves and I want to go but he’s like just standing there. Two seconds and all of a sudden he drops the gloves. He’s acting a little tougher than he is, we’re going to go after him.”
The Flames just shrugged off Klingberg’s threat.
“Just play,” coach Darryl Sutter said. “It’s playoffs. Guys get hit. It’s the way it works. Guys that don’t get hit usually lose.”
–Field Level Media