Coming off a game in which they did everything right other than score goals — and, of course, win — the Dallas Stars head into a crucial Game 4 clash against the Calgary Flames on Sunday with confidence.
The Stars, who trail the Stanley Cup playoff opening-round series 2-1, had a dominating performance in Friday’s 2-0 loss but feel more of the same will mean a different result in Edmonton.
“We probably played better (Friday) than we did (Thursday),” coach Rick Bowness said, comparing his club’s 5-4 win in Game 2 on Thursday. “The scoring opportunities were unreal. (Flames goalie Cam) Talbot was great, so give him a lot of credit. I think we missed the net far too many (times). Some of our best scoring chances were missing the net. It’s hard to explain that one. We hit goal posts, we missed open nets.”
Talbot made 35 saves for the Flames in a brilliant performance in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series, but the Stars were guilty of all kinds of missed opportunities, too.
Dallas had a 35-23 advantage in shot attempts and dominated time of possession, but couldn’t find the mark. The Stars hit a few posts and missed the net more often than not.
“A lot of good looks, just didn’t find the back of the net,” said Tyler Seguin, who has gone nine games without scoring a goal. “A lot of positive to look at, just got to maybe put more shots on net. I think we missed the net a couple times and I missed high and wide a few times. We’ve got to be getting some more rebounds.”
Dallas will be playing for the fifth time in eight days.
Meanwhile, the Flames are staring at a golden opportunity to take a stranglehold on the series, with Talbot’s last performance providing a huge confidence boost.
“I’ve always thought he’s a great goalie,” said Tobias Rieder, who was a teammate of Talbot’s with the Edmonton Oilers in 2018-19. “Obviously, everybody has an off year … everybody knows he can play better. But he’s just been outstanding. If he’s on his game, he’s one of the best goalies in the league. That’s how I knew him before and that’s how I feel he was in Edmonton. He stole games for us there, too.”
That said, the Flames are well aware that regularly expecting superhuman performances from their goaltender is not the way to a Stanley Cup.
“You learn from your past, your mistakes,” said forward Mikael Backlund, whose shorthanded goal was the game winner on Friday. “It’s our job now to come out Sunday and do a better job, play better. We all know we can be better. I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet this series. Against Winnipeg, we had some really solid games. I don’t think we’re there yet.
“I think it shows strength, too, to find a way to win games. You need that in the playoffs. You need a really good goalie, which we’ve had all along. And you also need to find ways to win. It doesn’t matter how you play as long as you win in the playoffs.”
Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, who missed Game 3 due to injury, is listed as day-to-day.
–Field Level Media