Dallas Stars First Round Playoff Reactions: Game Six

DALLAS, TX - MAY 13: The Dallas Stars celebrate after scoring a goal against the Calgary Flames during the third period in Game Six of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 13, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

It all comes down to this. Once a playoff afterthought, the Dallas Stars have crawled their way back into the series against the Calgary Flames. Roope Hintz and Michael Raffl gave the Stars an initial 2-0 lead, but two goals in the second period flipped the momentum in Calgary’s direction. Miro Heiskanen scored late in the second in what ended up being the game-winning goal. Tyler Seguin then iced the game on an empty-netter to keep Dallas’ hopes alive. Here are the reactions from Game 6

The Good

Dallas finally were consistent scorers in Game 6. The Stars-Flames series is the lowest scoring of the playoffs on a per-game basis, meaning that three natural goals will be enough to win a game. Jacob Markstrom and Jake Oettinger are putting on a show, making highlight-reel saves in nearly every game. Markstrom and Oettinger are ranked first in second in goalie save percentage and goals against this postseason. Both teams need goals from their depth lines to win games in this series.

Goals from Heiskanen, Raffl, and Seguin are vital because it makes Dallas less one-dimensional. Instead of relying on the top line of Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson, and Hintz, the Stars create pressure throughout their lineup. Production from the lower lines will be imperative to a Stars win in Game 7. If they can replicate the Game 6 success, Dallas can get past a heavily-favorited Calgary Flames team.

The Stars simply outplayed the Flames in Game 6. The team didn’t flinch, as Calgary was aggressive, trying to bait Dallas players into taking penalties. The Stars didn’t bite, showing their prowess as a team with playoff experience. The Stars dominated in the faceoff dot, as Radek Faska won twelve draws and Seguin won nine. Even Hintz rebounded from his early struggles this series, winning six of nine faceoffs in Game 6. These faceoff wins helped Dallas control the pace of the game. The Stars, in turn, used that control to suppress the Flames in the third period.

“We went after them instead of sitting back. … That was one of our better third periods of the year, and it was a timely one,” Raffl said post-game.

The Bad

Aggression has been a significant theme in this series. While the Stars have calmed down in recent games, the frustration seems to be mounting for the Calgary Flames. Nikita Zadorov let emotions get the best of him when he collided with Luke Glendening with 16:11 remaining in the second period. Glendening had sent the puck up the ice for a dump-in when Zadorov made the hit. He immediately slumped down, like a boxer who was knocked out.

Zadorov seemingly hit Glendening up high, with an elbow connecting to his chin. Reports conflict on whether the contact was made on the chest or chin. Glendening was helped off the ice, passed concussion protocol, then re-joined the bench. Zadorov later got 10-minute misconduct with seconds remaining in the game. He fought through two referees to take swings at Esa Lindell during a post-whistle scrum. He currently is in a hearing with the NHL’s department of player safety for his hit on Glendening. Both are questionable for Game 7, as Zadorov faces a possible suspension and Glendening is dealing with a lower-body injury.

Other than that, the Stars skated one of their best games of the season. There were a few hiccups, namely the two goals against in the second period, but Calgary is a fantastic team, and Dallas is an obvious underdog. Jake Oettinger needs to stay heroic, and the Stars need to block shots in the defensive zone.

Tips for Game 7

Stay composed against aggressive forecheck. On his way off the ice, Nikita Zadorov pointed at Jamie Benn on the Stars bench, saying ‘you’re next,’ referencing what happened to Luke Glendening. That story could carry over to Game 7, depending on the NHL’s Department of Player Safety response. Regardless of Zadorov’s game status, the Stars need to stay out of the penalty box, including not retaliating to missed calls or provocation from the Flames.

Scoring from the bottom lines. Both the Stars and Flames have been way too reliant on their top lines for scoring. The Stars’ breakthrough in Game 6 may foreshadow the heroics of Joel Kiviranta’s hat trick in Game 7 against the Avalanche during the 2020 Cup run. The lower lines can cause more panic to the Flames’ defense and goaltending.

Stay competitive. The Stars’ offense went stagnant in Game 5 following their goal in the second period. Though they were up 1-0, their turn to a defensive style eventually failed when the Flames scored three goals in the third period. Even if they gain the lead in Game 7, they need to keep the scoring pressure consistent throughout the game. In Game 6, the Flames scored twice inside less than four minutes. Given a chance, the Flames can be lethal, and the Stars need to extinguish any positive momentum the Flames gain.

Dallas is 6-8 in Game 7s, including a Game 7 win over Colorado in the second round of the 2020 playoffs, the year the Stars made it to the Stanley Cup Final.

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