The Calgary Flames had a game defined by speed, physicality and general peskiness in the qualifying round. Those qualities persisted in a back-and-forth Game 1 against the Dallas Stars to begin the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Flames ground out a 3-2 victory over Dallas to take a 1-0 series lead.

The Rundown

The Flames looked superb in the first period. They skated well. They fore-checked. They hit. They generated a lot of offensive zone time. And they were rewarded.

Midway through the first period, Matthew Tkachuk drew penalty in the neutral zone. On the resulting power play, Milan Lucic sent a gorgeous pass across the zone for Dillon Dube, whose one-timer off the rush beat Anton Khudobin to make it 1-0 Flames.

Late in the period, Dube decided he was going for a skate. He drove into the Dallas zone, powered his way towards the net, and neatly deposited the puck behind Khudobin to make it 2-0 for the Flames.

Shots were 12-7 Flames and scoring chances 6-4 Flames in the first period.

Down a pair, Dallas pressed a lot in the second period. They finally got on the board midway through the period. They hemmed the Flames in the offensive zone and Denis Gurianov’s shot glanced off TJ Brodie’s butt and past Cam Talbot to cut Calgary’s lead to 2-1.

Nine seconds later, Dallas tied it up on an equally weird scoring chance. The Flames couldn’t clear a Dallas dump-in. Jamie Benn flung the puck towards the Flames net and it blooped under Talbot’s arm to tie the game at 2-2.

But late in the period, Rasmus Andersson reinstated the Flames’ lead. He went for a skate and unleashed a shot from the top of the circles that ramped off Andrej Sekera’s stick and beat Khudobin to make it 3-2 Flames.

Shots were 11-7 Stars and scoring chances 8-7 Flames in the second period.

The third period was tight-checking, with Dallas pressing to try to tie the game up. Mark Giordano put the puck over the glass with 49.3 seconds left in regulation, giving Dallas a window with a six-on-four advantage. But the Flames’ penalty kill hung on for a 3-2 victory.

Shots were 8-7 Stars and scoring chances 5-2 Flames in the third period.

Why the Flames Won

The Flames didn’t play a perfect game, but they played their game. They played smart 200-foot hockey, scored when they got good looks, and they defended well enough to hold on to get the victory.

At even strength they were even against an evenly matched team, and their special teams were the difference-maker for them.

Red Warrior

Dube. He had a pair of goals and his line gave the Flames a huge energy boost every time they hit the ice.

The Turning Point

Andersson’s goal late in the second period gave them a lead heading into the third period and ensured that a could weird bounces against them over a nine second span wouldn’t completely let the air out of their proverbial balloon.

The Numbers

Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.

Backlund 66.7 33.3 0.820
Gustafsson 65.6 57.1 1.550
Mangiapane 63.6 33.3 0.245
Tkachuk 63.6 33.3 0.375
Forbort 55.8 72.7 1.350
Rieder 53.9 60.0 0.375
Lucic 51.5 63.6 1.035
Dube 50.0 63.6 1.575
Bennett 50.0 63.6 0.175
Andersson 47.2 60.0 0.875
Giordano 44.4 31.3 -0.175
Hanifin 41.4 45.5 0.625
Ryan 40.0 60.0 0.040
Lindholm 40.0 40.0 -0.145
Gaudreau 40.0 40.0 -0.225
Jankowski 40.0 60.0 0.060
Monahan 40.0 40.0 -0.145
Brodie 40.0 31.3 -0.300
Talbot 0.900

This and That

Tkachuk fought Corey Perry in the first period.

Including the regular season, the Flames are now 27-1-3 when leading after two periods.

Up Next

The Flames lead their best-of-seven first round series 1-0. Game 2 goes Thursday evening in Edmonton. Puck drop is just over 8:30 p.m. MT on CBC and Sportsnet – presuming the Vegas/Chicago game at 3:30 doesn’t run too long.