Calgary Flames Looking For Open Ice In Playoff Series With Dallas Stars – Calgary

With real estate on the rise in the NHL playoff series between Calgary and Dallas, the Flames want to gain more space to unlock their offense.

Calgary has fired 96 shots against Stars goalkeeper Jake Oettinger in the first three games, with two power goals and a power goal to show for it.

The Stars lead the low-scoring best-of-seven conference quarterfinals, 2-1, heading into Monday’s Game 4 in Dallas.

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Game 5 is Wednesday in Calgary. If need be, Game 6 is Friday in Dallas and Game 7 would return to Calgary on May 15th.

The Flames opened the series with a 1-0 win and a 2-0 loss at Saddledome.

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The key to the Stars’ 4-2 victory on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Game 3 was scoring their first power-play goal of the series, as well as scoring the first goal of the game in a four-on-four.

The Stars rarely ceded territory on the Oettinger front for the Calgary attackers to threaten at close range.

The Flames felt they made some inroads into that department on Saturday. So did the Stars in the Calgary final, however, and Dallas did better with a pair of goals from Joe Pavelski on the rebounds.

“I think in the last game we took a step where we’re getting more shots and more action around their goal,” said Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk.

“Just to do that early and get to the lead, it looks like the team that scores the first goal that is playing with the lead has a very good chance of winning the game. I think the start is very important for us.”

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Both sides had four power-play chances on Saturday. Calgary beat Dallas 13-4 with a men’s lead, but the Stars converted one of their chances in Pavelski’s winning goal.

Flames coach Darryl Sutter says working for an extra foot or two feet of space around the net is preferable to a barrage of shots that Oettinger can keep up with.

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“Our accuracy and a lot of the things we do have to be better, our passes and around the net with the puck,” Sutter said. “It’s one thing to shoot and stuff like that, but the other thing is to score and there’s a difference there.

“When you say that about the real estate part, it means things are moving faster, or it’s harder to get there, so that means you might have to do a better job with the record. It’s tight, yes.”

Led by goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom and a 1-11 penalty, the Flames didn’t give up much either.

But with three goals in three games, the astute 37-year-old Pavelski has managed to find the quiet spaces on the ice that the Flames don’t have.

Markstrom gave Calgary a chance to win every game with a save percentage of 0.942. The unflappable 23-year-old Oettinger’s NHL postseason debut was stellar.

“He’s not scared at the moment. He is not afraid of the ball. He wants it,” Stars forward Tyler Seguin said.

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“It’s been a fight out there. It’s been a great series, obviously a low-scoring event. I don’t know how it looks on TV or Twitter. It might be boring how much we talk here in Dallas, but we’re going to win.”

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Flames fans will regret that Johnny Gaudreau didn’t lift the puck enough in a breakaway with three and a half minutes left on Saturday.

“I tried to get it under the blocker and above the block, but I couldn’t,” said Gaudreau.

“I would like to score with two minutes to tie the game up there, but I had a lot of chances last night with five, six shots. Some of them were good Grade A opportunities.

“I’m glad I’m getting these looks and will find the network there eventually, but you want this one back for sure.”

The top line of Gaudreau, Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm, all 40 goals scored in the regular season, gathered 13 combined shots on Saturday at Oettinger. The trio combined to score Calgary’s first two goals of the series.

It was the Flames’ fourth row _ with burly Milan Lucic creating traffic in front of the net for Trevor Lewis _ who scored one of Calgary’s two goals so far in this series.

“Everybody always wants to talk about their scorers and that’s fine, but it has to be through their lineup,” Sutter said. “It just can’t be on one player for sure.”

The teams played nearly 16 four-on-four minutes in Games 2 and 3. That doesn’t fit with Calgary’s strengths, as the Flames ranked sixth in the NHL in five-on-five goals during the regular season.

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“I think there are seven in the series now, which is really rare. It would take you 20 games to get that many four-on-four in the regular season,” said Sutter, who added that he spoke to NHL director of referee Stephen Walkom about it Saturday morning.

“I think they can handle these situations and I think both teams would like to handle it better. The bottom line is, at playoff time, if you’re there after the whistle, what good is it? So now there are 10 guys in there and if they want to take two guys, if they want to do that, you are hurting the team.”

Stars captain Jamie Benn was fined $5,000 by Andrew Mangiapane in the second period on Saturday. No penalty was awarded in the play.

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