2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Flames vs. Stars first-round preview

(1P) Calgary Flames vs. (WC1) Dallas Stars

Flames: 50-21-11, 111 points

stars: 46-30-6, 98 points

Season series: CGY 2-0-1; LAD 1-2-0

Game 1: Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; ESPN2, CBC, SN, BSSW)

The Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars will meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time when they play in the Western Conference First Round.

Dallas defeated Calgary in six games in the best-of-7 first round in 2019-20. The Minnesota North Stars won in six games in the 1981 NHL Semifinals, the Flames’ first season in Calgary after moving from Atlanta.

The Flames are back in the playoffs after failing to qualify last season. They have reached the second round once in the past seven seasons, when they were eliminated by the Anaheim Ducks in 2015. They won the Pacific Division in 2018-19 but lost to the Colorado Avalanche in the best-of-7 first round in five games.

“A lot of us were here when it really hurt a few years ago, and we want to show we’re better than that,” Calgary forward Mikael Backlund said. “A lot of guys have won it once or twice and they know what it’s like and want to win it again. I think just overall, [we’re a] more experienced group, and more experienced management as well. I feel like we have a really good shot here and we want to take advantage of it.”

[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Stars series coverage]

The Stars missed the playoffs last season after advancing to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. They secured the first wild card in the West on Friday with a 4-2 win against the Ducks, combined with the Nashville Predators’ 5-4 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.

“We got the win, we got 98 points,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. “It’s a [heck] of a year, now let’s move on.”

game breakers

Flames: Forward Johnny Gaudreau set NHL career-highs this season in goals (40), assists (75) and points (115), leading Calgary in each category. His point total ranks second in Flames history behind Kent Nilsson, who had 131 (49 goals, 82 assists) in 1980-81. Gaudreau, who is fifth in the NHL with 1.40 points per game, can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

stars: Forward Joe Pavelsky led Dallas with an NHL career-high 81 points (27 goals, 54 assists). The 37-year-old continues to be one of the best at redirecting shots in the League and he, along with forwards Jason Robertson and Roope Hintzhave formed a productive top line.

Video: CGY@MIN: Gaudreau opens scoring with his 40th goal

Goaltending

Flames: Jacob Markstrom carried the bulk of the load in the regular season and is expected to do the same in the playoffs. He went 37-15-9 with a 2.22 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and a League-leading nine shutouts in 63 games (all starts). Dan Vladar was solid in the backup role, going 13-6-2 with a 2.75 GAA, .906 save percentage and two shutouts in 23 games (19 starts).

stars: Jake Oettinger has emerged as their No. 1 goalie. The 23-year-old went 30-15-1 with a 2.53 GAA, .914 save percentage and one shutout in 48 games (46 starts). Scott Wedgewood went 3-1-3 with a 3.05 GAA, .913 save percentage and one shutout in eight games (seven starts) after being acquired in a trade with the Coyotes on March 20. Braden Holtby (10-10-1, 2.78 GAA, .913 save percentage in 24 games, including 22 starts) has not played since March 4 because of a lower-body injury.

Numbers to know

Flames: Calgary allowed 2.51 goals per game this season, best in the Western Conference and third in the NHL behind the Carolina Hurricanes (2.44) and New York Rangers (2.49).

stars: Dallas had 28 one-goal wins, the most in the NHL. The Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild were next; each had 24.

X-factors

Flames: Matthew Tkachuk is entering the playoffs after the best regular season of his career; he was second on the Flames with 104 points (42 goals, 62 assists). His previous NHL season-high was 77 points (34 goals, 43 assists) in 2018-19. Tkachuk provided grit and production on the left wing alongside Gaudreau and center Elias Lindholm to help form one of the League’s top lines.

stars: Robertson, a finalist last season for the Calder Trophy, voted as the NHL’s top rookie, has looked comfortable with Hintz and Pavelski. He was second on the Stars with 79 points (41 goals, 38 assists) and led them with 13 power-play goals.

Video: ANA@DAL: Robertson grabs the lead with PPG

They said it

“I think we have such a close group of guys, a lot of guys with experience, a lot of guys who have won, a mixture of young guys, older guys, we just like being around each other every day and working hard, competing for the guy next to you. It’s going to be fun.” — Flames defenseman Christopher Tanev

“It’s playoffs, everyone will be ready. We’re pro athletes and that’s what we play the whole season for. It’s tough to get into playoffs and it’s exciting to play in playoffs and it’s the best thing you can play in hockey, (the ) Stanley Cup Playoffs.” — Star forward Radek Faksa

Will win if …

Flames: Markstrom can be as strong in the playoffs as he was in the regular season. Containing Pavelski’s line will be especially key, but Calgary will also have to keep the shots-against manageable. The Flames allowed 29.0 shots per game during the regular season, fifth in the NHL.

stars: They get more offense from someone not named Pavelski, Robertson or Hintz. Those three have been outstanding, and it won’t be surprising if they continue to produce in the playoffs. But other lines have to step up to take the onus off the top group.

how they look

Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau — Elias Lindholm — Matthew Tkachuk

Andrew Mangiapane — Mikael Backlund — Tyler Toffoli

Dillon DubeCalle JarnkrokBlake Coleman

Milan LucicTrevor LewisBrett Ritchie

Noah HanifinRasmus Andersson

Oliver Kylington — Christopher Tanev

Nikita ZadorovErik Gudbranson

Jacob Markstrom

Dan Vladar

Scratched: Ryan Carpenter, Adam Ruzicka, Michael Stone, Connor Mackey

Injured: None

Stars projected lineup

Jason Robertson — Roope Hintz — Joe Pavelski

Jamie BennTyler SeguinDenis Gurianov

Joel Kiviranta — Radek Faksa — Luke Glendening

Michael RafflVladislav NamestnikovAlexander Radulov

ryan suterMiro Heiskanen

Esa LindellJohn Klingberg

Thomas HarleyJani Hakanpaa

Jake Oettinger

Scott Wedgewood

Scratched: Jacob Peterson, Andrej Sekera, Marian Studenic

Injured: Braden Holtby (lower body)

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