Oetinger, Stars blank Flames to even series

The Stars tied the best-of-seven matchup with a shutout win in Game 2 at the Saddledome, which ended 2-0.

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When asked after Thursday’s series shutout loss if he was worried about his team’s sudden lack of offense, Calgary Flames coach Darryl Sutter simply shrugged.

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“Well, if you score the last…” he reasoned. “Or, the way it goes, if you score first…

“It’s pretty much the same as the game the other night,” he added. “Just reverse who scored first. »

The first goal wins.

It’s a new twist on the old adage.

This is also the story of this series so far.

This isn’t a gaming advice column, but if you’re betting on this best-of-seven battle between the Flames and Dallas Stars, you might want to hammer the underside.

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The Stars evened things up with a 2-0 shutout in Game 2 at the Saddledome.

In six periods so far, these first-round opponents have combined for three counts. Yeah, combined for three – and yes, that includes Thursday’s last empty net.

“I just have to score, press and put the puck in the net, starting with myself,” said Flames superstar Johnny Gaudreau, who managed to hit the net with just two of his 11 shot attempts – four were blocked and five missed the target. “We had a lot of chances to put the puck in the net. We didn’t do that tonight. This is the bottom line.

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The action now moves south for Game 3 on Saturday at American Airlines Center (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet/Sportsnet 960 The Fan). If a team draws three, there should be some sort of promotional giveaway.

Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger holds the fort with Flames center Calle Jarnkrok at the gate in Game 2.
Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger holds the fort with Flames center Calle Jarnkrok at the gate in Game 2. Photo by GAVIN YOUNG /Postmedia

The Flames’ only lamplight in this series came early in the opening. Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger has been flawless for 115 minutes since then, including a 29-save goose egg on Thursday.

In front of their sophomore puckkeeper, the Big D boys did a masterful job of obstructing the neutral zone. It might have been easier to get to the front of a beer line in the Saddledome lobby than to carry a puck from one blue line to the other.

“It’s playoff hockey – it’s not easy to score goals in the first place, let alone play against a team like this that plays extremely defensively,” Flames forward Tyler Toffoli said. . “We have to find a way to dig deep. Our goal was to go to Dallas and win two games anyway, so that doesn’t really change our mindset, I don’t think. We have to go out there and be ready to play in Game 3 and try to regain control of the series.

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They will have to find a way to get the puck past Oettinger, who has now made 49 consecutive saves.

He blocked Gaudreau from a sharp angle in the third, while Toffoli’s low shot ricocheted off his pad in the closing stages.

The closest to ruining his shutout streak might have been his buddy Jani Hakanpaa, who nearly put one in his own net. The Stars helped him with 20 blocked shots.

“I said before the series they weren’t giving up much, so your big guys are going to have to come in to score,” Sutter said during his postgame presser. “We got a lot from the outside, I think, from our top guys, in particular. Just being closer to the goalkeeper, I think.

Calgary’s own goaltender is certainly doing his part. Jacob Markstrom has a paltry 0.50 goals-against average in these playoffs…and he settled for a tie at home.

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Star forward Joe Pavelski may be the best in the business at deflecting pucks and he showed it again in Thursday’s first period, redirecting Jason Robertson’s pass to the top shelf to give visitors an advance they would never relinquish.

There remained a one-goal difference until Michael Raffl fired a giveaway with Markstrom pulled out for an extra striker.

And now ? Besides packing for Friday’s flight to Dallas?

“It’s the same question you’ve asked every time we’ve lost a game this year,” Sutter bristled. “Just be consistent and stay there. »

“STRESSIVE DRIVING”

The road to the Stanley Cup started with… well… a little more traffic than Flames speed demon Dillon Dube had anticipated.

Ahead of Game 2, the 23-year-old winger admitted his opening night ride wasn’t as smooth a cruise as he’d hoped – likely due to a combination of construction work around the Saddledome and congestion caused by a sold-out crowd that didn’t want to risk missing even a second of playoff action.

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There were 19,289 tramps in the seats and a few thousand more fans watching on a large screen outside the arena.

“It was a stressful journey. It took a lot longer than usual,” Dube said with a broad smile. “The windows were down and I was sweating a bit. The city is crowded at the moment. It’s great to see. You feel that when you go to the rink. You feel that the city is supporting us and you certainly try to incorporate that into the games.

Here’s the thing, young whippet.

Those pregame jitters never change. Your palms will always leave a little sweat on the steering wheel.

Take it from fellow forward Milan Lucic, one of four players on Calgary’s current roster whose name is inscribed on the Stanley Cup.

“I had the same thing,” Lucic said after Thursday morning practice. “I don’t think this is your first time in the playoffs or your 11th time in the playoffs, I still had nerves and sweats on the drive, too. I think that’s a great feeling to have. It means you are excited, you are ready to go.

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Feisty Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk hands the business to Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg in Thursday night's second game of the Stanley Cup first-round playoff series between the two teams at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Feisty Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk hands the business to Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg in Thursday night’s second game of the Stanley Cup first-round playoff series between the two teams at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Photo by GAVIN YOUNG /Postmedia

OUT OF THE GLASS

In two games, Oettinger holds a .982 save percentage, while Markstrom sits at .974. Impressive… The Flames haven’t celebrated a Game 2 victory since the 2004 Western Conference Finals, a dozen-game losing streak in the second game of a series. Yikes … Flames frontline center Elias Lindholm was a one-man wrecking team in the opening frame. He had four hits before the first intermission, including a big hit on Esa Lindell just in front of the visitor’s bench… If you had bet which of the Stars would become public enemy No. 1 in Calgary, John Klingberg would have been along -ultimate shot. That changed with Klingberg’s punch after Game 1 of the series, when he accused Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson of “acting a little harder than he is.” Klingberg was tweeted relentlessly by Matthew Tkachuk and repeatedly booed by the home crowd, although he insisted in an intermission interview that he appreciated the attention. “It’s awesome,” he told Bally Sports Southwest. “It just boosts my confidence”… Dustin Wolf, Calgary’s top puck-stopping prospect, was hailed Thursday as the winner of the Aldege ‘Baz’ Bastien Memorial Award, the AHL’s equivalent of the Vezina Trophy. Wolf, who just turned 21, was superb in his rookie season with the Stockton Heat, leading the minor league loop with 33 wins and posting a sparkling 2.35 goals-against average and save percentage. of 0.924.

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