Stars fans- breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
Your heart probably needs the opportunity to calm down after Dallas’ exhilarating 5-4 comeback win over the Calgary Flames to level its first round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at two games apiece.
Defenseman John Klingberg, who won the Stars’ first round series last April with a game-winning goal against the Nashville Predators, appeared to do it again in OT for Dallas Sunday, but after review it was Alexander Radulov’s deflection that sealed the gutsy win.
It was a win the Stars desperately needed. After a lackluster 2-0 loss Friday in Edmonton, Dallas entered game four with high stakes. A 3-1 series deficit wouldn’t mean certain elimination, but for a team with offensive struggles, it would’ve created a nearly insurmountable challenge.
The win meant something more than leveling the series for Dallas, however. An offense that struggles proved its worth by scoring five goals for the second time in its last three games. A team down in the series proved it wasn’t out. The Stars were clearly the better team for most of the game and, despite a few bad breaks, had more quality scoring chances and played more physical than its counterparts.
Dallas showed immediate improvement compared to Friday’s paltry effort, and took immediate control with a commanding first period, highlighted by Joe Pavelski’s third goal of the playoffs. The edge wouldn’t last, however, and Calgary star Johnny Gaudreau evened the scoring withing the first two minutes of the second.
Pavelski immediately responded, beating Calgary goalie Cam Talbot stick side on a breakaway after a nifty stretch pass to give Dallas a 2-1 lead. Again, Calgary countered and eventually took the lead with back-to-back goals from Sam Bennett.
A lingering issue for Dallas, but a significant strength for Calgary in the NHL “bubble” has been the Flames ability to score shorthanded goals. After Denis Gurianov tied Toby Reider scored a shorthanded goal to take a 4-3 lead. He’s the first player in NHL postseason history to reach that feat.
Shockingly, Dallas has allowed more shorthanded goals than it has scored when on the power play in the bubble. The Stars drew a whopping Calgary penalites, but connected only twice with the man advantage. They’re just 4-26 in seven games in Edmonton.
Moreover, the goal seemed like a gut punch for a Stars team that had scored more than three goals only once in its past seven games. Dallas thought it had tied the game with a Jason Dickinson wrister- but Corey Perry was ruled to have interfered with Talbot, and the goal was waved off.
Even with the odds and statistics against them, the Stars rallied and tied the game with Pavelski’s third goal of the game with just 12 seconds left. It clinched his first hat trick with the Stars, and the first such game in his storied playoff career.
After an evenly matched first fifteen minutes of overtime which saw each team garner quality scoring chances, Dallas eventually broke the stalemate with Radulov’s game winner.
Dallas peppered Talbot, who shut the Stars out in game three, for a whopping 62 shots. He’s started all four games in net for Calgary over All-Star David Rittich. On the other end, Anton Khoudobin stopped 36 of 40 Flames attempts after getting his second straight start over Ben Bishop, who was again deemed unfit to play ahead of time.
Game five is scheduled for 4:30 central on NBC Sports and Fox Sports Southwest. Keep an eye out for the Dallas Stars Fanatic preview podcast ahead of puck drop.