The Dallas Stars sent the Calgary Flames packing Thursday night, negating a three-goal lead with seven of their own in a row to close out Game Six at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
It was astonishing and heartbreaking and bizarre all at once.
The Flames jumped out with three goals in the first period, with Andrew Mangiapane, Johnny Gaudreau and Rasmus Andersson finding twine inside 6:34.
Stars head coach Rick Bowness did the right thing, however, and his team didn’t lose their cool. He regrouped, took a time out and let goalie Anton Khudobin get back in the mix. The 34-year-old did just that, backstopping Dallas to victory and closing the door the rest of the way.
Khudobin’s performance was significant and special because Calgary cracked off 41 shots in the losing effort, while Dallas just mustered a total of 24. The Stars also blocked 24 shots.
“I thought the first 10 minutes, probably our best start of the playoffs,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. “I thought we were executing. We got out to the lead and then it’s early in the game, so you know they’re going to have a push, and they did. Give them credit, they put pucks to the net, but they got some deflections that went in that other nights wouldn’t go in…and then once they got some momentum, it sort of snowballed on us.”
And snowball, it did.
The Stars got momentum thanks to Miro Heiskanen’s first-period goal and went into the intermission with something to work with. The goal game on the power play, which came after Calgary’s Milan Lucic took a dumb penalty.
What followed was a five-goal second period that turned the game – and the Flames – inside out. Goalie Cam Talbot was chased from the net in favour of David Rittich, who had his first action of the post-season. It was not pretty. He allowed three goals on nine shots in part of the second period, so it was back to Talbot for the third.
Denis Gurianov had four goals for the Stars. Radek Faksa and Joe Pavelski also scored.
With the comeback win, the Stars became the first team in NHL history to trail by three goals and later lead by four goals in the same playoff game.
Dallas face the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.