CALGARY — johnny gaudreau raised his hands in the air, the striker jumping as a linemate Elijah Lindholm embraced him after the Calgary Flames finally won after 134 shot attempts in Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round against the Dallas Stars at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday.
Sixty-seven of those shots came to the Stars goaltender. jake oettinger, who saved 64 of them and looked like he was going to steal the best-of-7 series and deny western Canadian hockey fans the chance to witness a second-round “Battle of Alberta” between the Flames and the Edmontons Oilers. But Calgary found a way, and it’s no surprise that the face of the franchise was responsible.
Gaudreau scored at 15:09 of overtime, sending the Flames into Round 2 with a 3-2 win. They will host Game 1 against the Oilers on Wednesday.
“I was just trying to get it on the net,” Gaudreau said. “That guy played pretty well the whole series. He just tried to get the pucks to the net. That’s where he found the net.”
[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Stars series coverage]
That “guy,” Oettinger, had about 36 minutes of Stanley Cup Playoff experience before this series, and he spent two cleanup games during the 2020 playoffs. The 23-year-old showed he was capable of do more this time around and saved his best performance for Game 7 with 64 saves, the second-most in Game 7 in NHL history behind Kelly Hrudey of the New York Islanders, who made 73 saves. against the Washington Capitals in the 1987 Patrick Division Semifinals. That game required four overtime.
“We have a franchise goalie, for sure,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. “You go into overtime with Jake, you know it’s going to take a perfect shot to beat him, and it was a perfect shot. Johnny made a perfect shot, right under the bar. You can’t do anything about it.”
“But Jake Oettinger, he’s a franchise goalie and the good news is he’s going to keep getting better. He’s a young guy, this is his first playoff run, he’s going to benefit from this experience. The Dallas Stars are in good shape.” he forms for a long time with Jake.”
Oettinger said he found a rhythm, especially in the second period when the Stars were outscored 26-4. He made 24 saves, and was 2-for-2 at 40 minutes.
“I learned how much fun the playoffs are and that’s what it’s all about, being in these situations and giving yourself a chance to win,” Oettinger said. “So I’ve never been more motivated than I am right now and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I get this chance again and I’m going to make sure I’m on the other side.” Next time.”
Video: [email protected], Gm7: Oettinger is headed in Game 7
Oettinger earned a lot of respect, including from the Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, who had kind words for Oettinger on the handshake line. Markstrom made 26 saves in Game 7.
“He just said it was a fun battle and I have a bright future,” Oettinger said. “Obviously he’s a great goalkeeper and it was fun for me to be able to play a Vezina Trophy finalist.”
Before the series, Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said, “if there’s anything comparable in this series, it’s the two goalies.” Sutter continued to praise Oettinger after Game 7.
“He was the best player in the series, that’s for sure,” Sutter said.
The Flames face another tough test ahead against Connor McDavid and the Oilers. It is the fifth time Calgary and Edmonton have met in the playoffs, but it will be the first since 1991 in the Smythe Division Semifinals. Edmonton won that series in seven games.
The Flames averaged 2.14 goals per game against the Stars, 15th among NHL playoff teams (Dallas was last at two per game), but they were the first to allow two goals per game. The Oilers averaged 3.86 goals per game and allowed 2.43 goals per game (fourth among playoff teams in both categories) against the Los Angeles Kings, whom they eliminated in seven games in the first round.
“I mean, I’ve been here for nine years and I never got a chance to play them in the playoffs,” Gaudreau said. “It’s pretty special and it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be good for the province. It’s going to be fun for them, it’s going to be fun for us. It’s going to be a great series.”
One that almost didn’t happen thanks to Oettinger. He finished the series with a 1.81 goals-against average, a .954 save percentage and one shutout in seven starts. He made 29 saves in a 2-0 win here in Game 2.
“We didn’t lose faith at all,” says Flames. Matthew Tkachuk saying. “I said it out there. I could have told them after Game 1, definitely after Game 2, this series was going to go the distance. They played us real hard and made us win every inch. Our guys there who have won a lot more series of playoffs that we say is one of the most difficult rounds, if not the most difficult, that they have played.
“You have to take your hat off to Dallas. They’re a great hockey club, and very soon they’re going to have one of the best goalies in the league here, and their D-core plays very well, too, very strong.” and hard to get to the net. They played us hard.”
NHL.com Freelance Correspondent Aaron Vickers contributed to this story.