Less than 24 hours after completing a triumphant comeback with a defensive gaffe that cost them a chance at overtime, the Calgary Flames are back in action! And they’re facing the Dallas Stars in Game 3 of a tied first round playoff match-up! A win and the Flames have a lead again! A loss and the Flames are chasing in the series! It’s a very important game!

Oh, and the Flames best player may or not may not be playing…

The puck drops for Game 3 at 8:30 p.m. MT on CBC and Sportsnet’s national feed (with Chris Cuthbert and Louie DeBrusk) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias).

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Mangiapane – Backlund – Tkachuk
Lucic – Bennett – Dube
Jankowski – Ryan – Rieder

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Andersson
Forbort – Gustafsson

So, we’re not entirely sure right now precisely what the Flames will look like tonight. It’s the seventh back-to-back coached by interim coach Geoff Ward; side from the playoffs, he’s used different goalies in each half he’s coached, and he’s made lineup tinkers in five of the previous six situations. So, expect some changes.

Will we see David Rittich play after Cam Talbot gave up five goals against Dallas? (Granted, aside from Miro Heiskanen’s second goal none were really Talbot’s fault and the Flames were leaky defensively.) But after Matthew Tkachuk left the game three times – twice due to a spear to his, uh, groin area and once due to a head-to-head collision with Jamie Oleksiak – he’s a game time decision per Ward at the pre-game media availability. Ward also declined to specify his starting goaltender.

The Flames extras in Game 2 were Zac Rinaldo, Byron Froese, Alan Quine, Buddy Robinson, Oliver Kylington, Michael Stone, Juuso Valimaki, Alexander Yelesin, Jon Gillies and Artyom Zagidulin. All but Zagidulin and Froese have spent time with the Flames since Ward’s been on the coaching staff, and he seems pretty confident with whoever he might need to slot in based on comments before Game 2.

“We really haven’t had to tinker with our lineup,” said Ward prior to Thursday’s Game 2. “But the other thing I really wanted to add to this are the guys who aren’t in our lineup are ready to be in our lineup. And I think that’s a big thing for us, in terms of being ready and being able to play the same lineup. Guys know when they go to practice and what they do in games they have to be on top of it, because we’ve got guys that are ready to step in and play and we’ve got guys that are dying to step in and play and they’re showing it in the way that they practice.”

The Stars

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Benn – Seguin- Radulov
Janmark – Pavelski – Gurianov

Hintz- Dickinson- Perry
Comeau – Faksa – Cogliano

Lindell – Klingberg
Oleksiak – Heiskanen
Sekera – Fedun

Ben Bishop started in Game 2 and given the back-to-back situation, it’s probable that Anton Khudobin plays in Game 3. (But we’re not sure.) The projected extras are Nick Caamano, Jason Robertson, Justin Dowling, Joel Hanley, Gavin Bayreuther, Thomas Harley, Ty Dellandrea, Joel Kirivanta, Landon Bow and Jake Oettinger. Stephen Johns is unfit to play.

Aside from a goaltending swap, we might not see big changes for Dallas. They were easily the better team in Game 2, with their top guns looking pretty damn good and their second pairing making a huge difference in the outcome of the game. (Miro Heiskanen? He’s amazing at hockey.)

Unless Dallas emptied the tank in Game 2, the Flames will have their hands full for the remainder of the series.

The Numbers

Flames Stars
Wins 4 2
Adjusted Corsi 49.9% 43.4%*
Power Play 31.8% 13.3%
Penalty Kill 87.0% 76.5%

*- The NHL’s shot data for the Dallas/St. Louis round robin game is hot garbage, so possession stats are only available for the other Dallas games.

Unfit to Play Report

The Flames are without D Travis Hamonic (opted out). F Matthew Tkachuk’s (head/groin/general body trauma) is a game time decision. F Austin Czarnik (family) has left the bubble.

The Stars are without D Stephen Johns (unfit to play).

When Last We Met

This is Game 3 of a playoff series. The Flames were excellent in Game 1, beating Dallas 3-2. The Flames were not particularly excellent in Game 2, losing to Dallas 5-4. (They tied the game after trailing 4-2, but blew the tie with 39.2 seconds left because the hockey gods are cruel.)

Know Thy Enemy

Here are some key Twitter peeps to follow for tonight: