Flames take momentum from win to home ice in Game 5 of playoff series against Stars
CALGARY — The Calgary Flames produced the keys to beating Dallas Stars in their playoff series.
They’ll try to improve on what they did to tie the series in Dallas and pull ahead Wednesday at home.
The Flames and Stars clash at the Saddledome in Game 5 of their best-of-seven conference quarterfinal.
Game 6 is Friday back in Dallas. If necessary, Game 7 is Sunday in Calgary.
Both teams earned splits in each other’s arenas to be deadlocked 2-2.
Calgary had the discipline to maintain five-on-five hockey Monday in a 4-1 Game 4 win at American Airlines Arena.
The Flames ranked sixth in the NHL in even-strength goals in the regular season, compared to Dallas at No. 30.
After a combined 16 minutes of four-on-four in the second and third games of the series, the Flames engaged less, or more intelligently, in the extracurricular aggression that had produced so many coincidental minors.
So the Flames had the puck on their sticks a lot more than Dallas in Game 4, which gave Calgary longer stretches in the offensive zone pinning the Stars in their own end.
“We’ve been a very good five-on-five team all year. The more we keep it like that, the better,” Calgary forward Matthew Tkachuk said Tuesday upon the team’s arrival back in Alberta.
“Just have the puck, shoot the puck, get it back and play more in their zone.”
Tkachuk and Dallas defenceman John Klingberg didn’t lock horns Monday to the same level they did in the second and third games, when they engaged in skirmishes shortly after puck drop.
While Elias Lindholm produced just the third even-strength goal of the series Monday for Calgary, the Flames dominated puck possession to generate other spinoff benefits.
The Stars chasing the Flames resulted in a five-on-three power-play goal for the all-important first goal of the game in the second period.
Johnny Gaudreau getting hooked on a breakaway made way for his successful penalty shot and a two-goal lead early in the third.
“We were on the wrong side of them too many times in all three zones,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “We were very slow to close on them in the defensive zone which is why they were able to cycle the puck as much.
“We’ll look at what went wrong and we’ll fix it by Wednesday night.”
After Calgary won 1-0 and lost 2-0 at the Saddledome to start the series, both teams made adjustments to find more open ice in Dallas.
They’ve combined for five even-strength goals in four games and both teams were 2-for-17 on the power play.
Their goaltenders have been their best penalty killers as the positional duel continues between Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom, who was named a Vézina Trophy finalist Tuesday, and the 23-year-old Jake Oettinger for the Stars.
Markstrom led the NHL in shutouts (nine) and ranked among the league’s top five in games played (63), wins (37), goals-against average (2.22) and save percentage (.922).
Oettinger’s seen more rubber, including 50 saves in Game 4. Markstrom was needed for game-saving stops, however, in a 34-save effort at American Airlines Center.
“It helps out a lot especially when they’ve got some pushes and they have a great atmosphere there,” Tkachuk said of Markstrom’s presence. “They’ve got a loud crowd, so to have somebody back there that can hold the fort, it’s huge.
“I congratulated him today. I think a lot of guys did. It speaks to the great year he’s had.”
Sutter was noncommittal Tuesday as to whether he’ll play 11 forwards and seven defenceman in Game 5 as he did in Game 4.
In limiting his defenders’ minutes with an extra body, the coach deployed different forward line combinations throughout the game.
“Check on guys later tonight, injuries and stuff, treatments and go from there,” Sutter said.
When a best-of-seven series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 holds an all-time series record of 219-58 (. 791), according to NHL statisticians.
“The momentum is huge in this series,” Stars forward Tyler Seguin said. “We’ve had it, they’ve had it and it’s our time to respond.”
Stars captain Jamie Benn was fined a second time in the series Tuesday. He was docked $5,000 for tripping Flames forward Trevor Lewis less than a minute into the second period Monday.
Benn was fined the same amount for high-sticking Andrew Mangiapane in Game 3.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2022.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
McDavid enters history books, Skinner shines as Oilers top Kings 2-0
Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 300th career goal, against the Los Angeles Kings during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Thursday March 30, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
By Shane Jones in Edmonton
Connor McDavid scored his 300th career goal, Stuart Skinner made 43 saves for Edmonton’s first shutout of the season and the Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 on Thursday.
McDavid became the first player in NHL history to have five different 10-game point streaks in a single season, breaking Wayne Gretzky’s record of four in the 1986-87 season.
McDavid also became the fifth player in league history to reach 300 goals and 500 assists before playing 600 career games. Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Peter Statsny and Bryan Trottier are the others.
Evander Kane scored the other for Edmonton (44-23-9), which has won three in a row and gone 12-2-1 in March.
The Oilers also moved ahead of the Kings for second place in the Pacific Division by one point.
Joonas Korpisalo made 35 saves for Los Angeles (43-22-10), which has lost two in a row on the heels on a franchise-high 12-game points streak.
Kane opened the scoring with just 52 seconds left in the first period. Leon Draisaitl made a beautiful behind-the-back spin pass to Kane, who was able to send a one-timer past Korpisalo for his 15th of the season.
Draisaitl picked up his 70th assist and extended his point scoring streak to 11 games on the play.
Skinner was later able to keep the Kings off the board midway through the second period, making a big glove save on Adrian Kempe’s breakaway backhand shot.
Edmonton outshot Los Angeles 27-24 through 40 minutes after a scoreless second period.
McDavid made it 2-0 3:53 into the third period when he picked off a pass and sped away on a short-handed breakaway to score his 61st goal of the season. It was also his fourth short-handed goal of the campaign.
Skinner made huge saves on Vladislav Gavrikov and Viktor Arvidsson in the dying minutes and collected his 10th win in the month of March to set a franchise record for wins in a single month.
The Kings entered the game with a 9-1-2 record in March and the league’s best point percentage for the month, while Edmonton was second. Edmonton leads the NHL with 4.71 goals per game in March, while the Kings are fourth at 4.00. A major difference is that the Kings also had the lowest goals against per game at 2.08 during that span … Edmonton had also scored four or more goals in 11 of its 14 games this month and its power play has operated at 42.3 per cent during their 7-0-1 run coming into the contest. … Edmonton became the first team to have two players record 70 assists in the same season since the 2008-2009 Pittsburgh Penguins and just the 21st team in NHL history to do so … The Kings were without Gabriel Vilardi (upper body), while the Oilers were missing Ryan Murray (back), and Ryan McLeod (upper body).
The Oilers play host to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.
The Kings play the third game of a four-game road trip in Seattle against the Kraken on Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023.
Appropriate for Alberta premier to discuss COVID case with accused, deputy says
Kaycee Madu shakes hand with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith after he was sworn into cabinet in Edmonton, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. Madu says it was appropriate for his boss to phone up a pastor charged over pandemic-rule protests and discuss the accused’s upcoming criminal trial. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
By Dean Bennett in Edmonton
Alberta’s deputy premier says it was appropriate for Premier Danielle Smith to phone up a pastor and discuss his upcoming criminal trial on charges stemming from protests over pandemic restrictions.
Kaycee Madu, who is also the province’s former justice minister, said Thursday that Smith is working to make Alberta better, adding that she is free to contact whomever she wants in pursuing that mission.
Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley labelled Madu’s comments a dangerous “la la land” rationale and the start of a slippery slope toward a “tinpot dictatorship.”
Smith faces renewed criticism over a leaked phone conservation she had with Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski in January about his looming criminal trial for his role at a protest over COVID-19 health measures that blocked the United States-Canada border-crossing at Coutts, Alta., in January 2022.
Audio of the call was obtained by the Opposition NDP and played for reporters Wednesday.
In it, Smith is heard commiserating with Pawlowski over her government’s trial tactics, offering to make inquiries on his behalf and saying the Crown is pursuing politically motivated charges against him.
Legal and political observers say the call is a profound breach of the firewall separating politicians from those who decide who gets prosecuted.
Smith has long been critical of COVID-19 masking, gathering and vaccine mandate rules, questioning if they were needed to fight the pandemic. She has called them intolerable violations of personal freedoms.
Madu, when asked by reporters whether it was proper for Smith to have called Pawlowski, said: “COVID policies were divisive for the people of Alberta. I am looking to see us pass that particular era and focus on the people’s priorities.”
He said Smith’s focus as premier has been on things that matter to Albertans, such as affordability, economic growth and taking care of the vulnerable.
“In the course of that particular work, the premier is free to speak with anyone that she wishes to speak with.”
Notley said those remarks, coupled with Smith’s words on the phone call, put Alberta on a slippery path to the politicization of its justice system. She called for an expedited independent inquiry into the matter before the writ is dropped next month for a scheduled provincial election.
“We’re on the verge of a tinpot dictatorship,” Notley said.
“You start ripping apart the fundamental tenets of democracy, you move into dictatorship. It’s that simple.”
Madu moved out of the justice portfolio under former premier Jason Kenney after a third-party report found he tried to interfere in the administration of justice by calling up Edmonton’s police chief to complain about a traffic ticket.
Madu was given a new portfolio under Kenney, then promoted to deputy premier when Smith won the party leadership and became premier in October.
Smith has not spoken to reporters since the audio was released, but in a statement Wednesday reiterated she has acted strictly within the parameters of advice from justice officials and has not spoken directly to Crown prosecutors.
“There is no need for further investigation of this matter,” Smith said in a statement Thursday.
Notley said the call is dramatic and disturbing proof of Smith breaching the judicial firewall.
“You cannot have unfettered power in the office of the premier. There are limits,” Notley said. “Our Constitution for as long as we’ve been a country has said that those limits are defined by an independent judicial system.”
Calgary-based pollster Janet Brown said the controversy will reanimate voter concerns with Smith.
“Why was she even taking a call from someone facing a criminal offence and talking about their criminal charges?” said Brown in an interview.
“This will give undecided voters pause. They will be wondering about her judgment, and her judgment is her Achilles heel.”
Political scientist Duane Bratt said Smith is exerting pressure on the justice system by constantly questioning justice officials about why they are pursuing COVID-19 cases.
“Even if this isn’t about talking to Crown prosecutors, this is clear pressure on (Justice Minister Tyler) Shandro,” said Bratt, with Mount Royal University in Calgary.
Constitutional law professor Eric Adams, with the University of Alberta, said the call threatens public trust in the courts.
“You expose the administration of justice to the reasonable concern of the public that some people have access to the premier and preferential treatment and some people don’t,” said Adams.
“Our system can’t function on that basis.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023.
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