Much has been said about the Calgary Flames stars in Round One so far.
The importance of Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm and Jacob Markstrom can’t be overstated. That’s also been true for the Milan Lucic/Trevor Lewis tandem at times. The fourth line stalwarts have been regulars in the rotation.
But for the Calgary Flames to accomplish the ultimate goal, the rest of the forward group needed to make more noise.
Correction. More impact.
There was plenty of both in the third period of Game 5, courtesy of Andrew Mangiapane – arguably the most disappointing Flames player to this point of the playoffs.
Sparking his side with the tying assist and winning goal on back-to-back shifts, Mangiapane helped the Calgary Flames claim a critical 3-1 win to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
“It was big. I was obviously I think a little happy there,” Mangiapane said of his goal. “The job’s not done, obviously. We’ve got to prepare now for next game.”
They now have the Dallas Stars on the brink of elimination.
Flames finally solve dominant Oettinger
With the Stars enjoying a 1-0 lead and smothering the Flames through nearly 50 minutes, Mikael Backlund scored the first Calgary goal on home ice since the first period of Game 1.
The beleaguered Mangiapane drew the assist for his first point of the series.
A 35-goal scorer in the regular season, Mangiapane has been struggling in the playoffs. He’s been drowning along the boards and frequently buried by his larger, physical opponents. But finding his extra gear and showing the resilience that got him to the NHL as an undersized underdog, Mangiapane made a trademark circle into the high slot with the puck to cue the comeback on Wednesday night.
He fired a hard shot/pass to Mikael Backlund, who redirected the puck past Jake Oettinger with the shaft of his stick.
“A good hard game. It’s what’s expected of him,” Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said of Mangiapane’s efforts. “It’s not what you did, it’s what you do. It’s not just about scoring. It’s about a lot more than that.”
Sutter subbed Coleman in for Tyler Toffoli in search of a spark. The move paid off.
“Switching the lines around in the third period, that was a good line for us,” Sutter said.
The Backlund goal gave the Flames, and the fans, new life.
Tough luck continues for Toffoli
Oettinger has practically owned the Saddledome ice in the three games here. Before Backlund’s second of the playoffs, the Stars goaltender hadn’t allowed a goal since the first five minutes of the series opener.
He continued to fuel Toffoli’s nightmares, with the Flames winger unable to solve the big Stars goalie despite a number of great chances. Toffoli watched in disbelief as Oettinger stymied one of his hard shots and the puck bounced along the goal-line and out of the danger zone without banking in off any of the bodies in front.
It seemed like Jason Robertson’s lucky goal might be enough. The rebound from his heavy shot bounced off Noah Hanifin and in past Markstrom.
But two goals in less than four minutes was all the Flames needed in the third. Then Lewis sealed the victory with under a minute on the clock, outracing John Klingberg to the puck after Gaudreau’s long-range empty net attempt missed.
But, as Sutter says, it’s not all about scoring.
Blake Coleman did much of the heavy lifting on the third-period line shuffle, landing with Backlund and Mangiapane. Coleman nearly added a shorthanded goal with a sneaky spin move in close. Dillon Dube was critical in clearing the zone late in the game after the Flames penalty killers escaped unharmed during a late call against Oliver Kylington.
The crowd appreciated every minute of it.
“It was loud, excited. You hear the building erupt. The fans were waiting for a goal and it was a big goal that Backs scored,” said Mangiapane. “Our team just fed off that energy.”
“It was loud,” said Backlund, sitting beside Mangiapane on the podium. “I was screaming my emotions too and I don’t think anybody heard me.”