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The Calgary Flames’ season ended in heartbreaking fashion on Thursday night in Edmonton. After spotting themselves to a 3-0 lead, they allowed seven goals to lose 7-3 to the Dallas Stars in Game 6.

Here’s what was discussed in the post-game media calls.

The one that got away…

The Flames were the better team early. They had the first seven shots of the game and were up 3-0 before Dallas had a shot attempt. But Milan Lucic took a penalty eight minutes in, his first of two minors. Dallas scored on that man advantage, their first of two goals with Lucic in the box.

And then the Stars were off to the races.

“We talk about managing moments,” said interim coach Geoff Ward of the first penalty kill. “We had been good on the kill the whole series, the majority of the playoffs. They happened to score on that one. On another night we get that thing killed and we’re not talking about it.”

Ward didn’t spend a lot of time ruminating on particular things that got away from the Flames in the game, but he did share his thoughts on the team’s growth and the hope that the group learns and grows from the defeat.

“You can’t always control how you lose. Things can start amping up and they start running downhill on you.”

The goaltending shuffle

After the third Dallas goal, Ward made his big adjustment of the hockey game by giving Cam Talbot the yank.

“I could feel it coming. Can’t say I blame him. I would have done the same thing if I was him… It was a 3-0 hockey game for us. I’ve been there all playoffs for us. When we needed it the most, I wasn’t there.”

(Talbot’s emotions after getting pulled? “Angry. Disappointed in myself. Frustrated for my teammates. Just went to the locker room for five, 10 minutes, just to more or less calm down.”)

Later, Ward attributed Talbot’s absence on the bench to an equipment issue, but his answer to a follow-up question made it seem liked Ward assumed that Talbot had left due to an equipment issue (and not to cool down). Ward said the plan initially was for Talbot to come back in during the second period, but that was shifted to him going back in to open the third period.

As you would expect given how damn good he was in the playoffs, Talbot’s teammates had a lot of positive things to say about his post-season.

“Talbs was great for us the whole playoffs,” said alternate captain Sean Monahan. “He’s a veteran guy, he’s been around a long time. He did a great job for us. He’s steady, he’s calm, and obviously he’s great in the locker room with everybody, too. Big credit to him for obviously the playoffs that he had for us.”

Alternate captain Mikael Backlund expressed sympathy towards David Rittich, thrown into his first real meaningful hockey game since March 8, and who hadn’t played a second of playoff hockey this year (or ever).

“For Ritter it’s a tough position coming in,” said Backlund. “Haven’t played at all this post-season coming in and play I don’t know how many minutes it was. It’s not easy. Both goalies, we were happy to have them. Talbs did play really solid this playoffs and it’s tough for Ritter coming in the position he did.”

Ward acknowledged it was an unfair spot to put Rittich into, but he wanted to give Talbot a reset and change momentum in the game. It obviously didn’t work out that way.

A pending unrestricted free agent, Talbot expressed his fond emotions towards the Flames locker room.

“This is by far one of the best groups I’ve been a part of in hockey in general,” said Talbot. “Not just professionally, but all the way through. This group of guys went out and battled every night for each other. It’s an empty feeling know that we don’t get to go out there and battle anymore.”

The difference between two playoff losses

A common thread throughout the entire 2020 post-season has been questions about what’s different between this year’s playoffs and the 2019 pummeling by Colorado. Backlund had a pretty good answer.

It’s tiring that it’s brought up. I feel like last year we went in number one seed, this year we went in as number eight seed. Totally different scenarios. We won a round here. It’s a tight series. Last year against Colorado, we had one good game, after that they were the better team. This series I thought it was tight. it was a battle. not that we didn’t battle last year, but i thought we just weren’t as good as we were in regular season. and now i found as a team that we played really solid against Winnipeg, and I think [against] Dallas there were some ups and downs, we played a good team, but i thought we played better this year, this round, than last year.