The Calgary Flames lost to the Dallas Stars by a 2-1 score in Game 5 on Tuesday night, pushing them to a 3-2 series deficit and onto the brink of playoff elimination.

Here’s what was discussed in the post-game zoom chats.

Stymied by a slow start

The Flames were not good in the first period. Interim coach Geoff Ward thought their start was a little slow.

“It’s really the first time I’ve seen our team a little bit nervous,” said Ward. “But it’s understandable: it’s the first time we’ve been in a 2-2 situation going into a Game 5 where you know the winner has an upper hand in terms of not having to play an elimination game in Game 6. So, I thought our guys were a little nervous in the first. This is really the first time I’ve seen us with a case of nerves all playoffs long so far.”

Mikael Backlund characterized their first period as “passive,” but noted their breakouts improved later on.

“We obviously need a better start to our games,” said Andrew Mangiapane. “That’s going to be big coming up here for our next game. Get a good start, get more pucks to the net, get more traffic to the net, maybe we score a couple early ones early on.”

Out shot, once again

Speaking of pucks to the net…

No matter how you slice it, the Flames have been out-played by Dallas.

Here’s a quick rundown of players who have a positive shot differential against Dallas:

  • Shots, five on five: Erik Gustafsson
  • Scoring chances, five on five: Gustafsson
  • High-danger scoring chances, five on five: nobody

You can really see the impact of missing Matthew Tkachuk: he was the team’s leading scorer, arguably their best player, and definitively his team’s heart and soul. The coaching staff has mentioned throughout the past seasons that he drags his teammates into the muck and in such a tight-checking series, he could’ve been a big difference-maker. Through three games, his absence has been felt.

Need one good game

If there was a common refrain from the Flames players, it was this: they need to have one good game in Game 6, win, and then go from there. They can’t win the series on Thursday, but they can lose it if they get off the rails again.

Heading into what could be the team’s last game of the 2020 playoffs – and who knows, perhaps his last game behind the Flames bench? – Ward had a couple excellent lines that shone some light on his mindset heading into Thursday:

“The series isn’t over until you lose four times, and we haven’t lost four times yet so we’ve got to make sure we come and do everything that we can do in Game 6 to get a win.”

“The only sin, really, coming up in Game 6 is not to show up. If you come in and you play hard, you play a good game, you can be fine with it. Right now, we’ve got to prepare ourselves to come out and play that game.”