3 Keys: Stars vs. Flames, Game 4 of Western First Round


No. 3 Stars vs. No. 6 Flames

2 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, SN, FS-SW

Calgary leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk will be a game-time decision in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round against the Dallas Stars at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday.

Tkachuk, who left Game 2 in the third period following a collision with Stars Jamie Oleksiak and Jamie Benn, did not play in Game 3 and is day to day. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

Tkachuk has two points (one goal, one assist) in six postseason games after leading the Flames with 61 points (23 goals, 38 assists) in 69 games in the regular season.

“Depth at this time of year is important because the attrition rate can get high over the course of a playoffs,” Calgary coach Geoff Ward said. “Our guys have done a good job to step in and fill in to do that. It comes from being ready.

“It’s hugely important. I think guys feel confident coming in and they’re going to be able to contribute, and so far they have.”

Dallas defenseman Stephen Johns, who was injured in Game 1, remains unfit to play.

The Flames won Game 3 on Friday in Edmonton, the hub city for the West. Teams that win Game 3 after a Stanley Cup Playoff series is tied 1-1 are 215-106 (67 percent) winning a best-of-7 series.

Here are 3 keys to Game 3:


1. Get to Talbot

Calgary goalie Cam Talbot made 35 saves in a 2-0 win in Game 3 for his second shutout of the postseason. Dallas outshot Calgary by a combined 27-12 in the second and third periods but couldn’t score on Talbot, whose .937 save percentage leads the postseason.

“As much as we can pat ourselves on the back and say we had enough scoring chances, plenty of scoring chances, which obviously we did, we still left a lot on the table,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “There were too many times that we could have had more quality scoring chances had [there been] urgency around their net.”


2. Power versus power

Dallas’ top line of Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov have combined for four points (two goals, two assists) in the series. Calgary’s top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm has no goals and three assists. Whichever line breaks out could be the deciding factor in Game 4.


3. Special efforts

The Flames have scored a shorthanded goal in back-to-back games, including Mikael Backlund‘s game-winner at 5:58 of the second period in Game 3, and their penalty kill is No. 5 in the postseason at 88.9 percent. The Stars, who were 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 3, have one power-play goal in 10 attempts in the series.

“It’s been huge,” Lindholm said. “Definitely can win games at this time of the year. I think our PK has been really good for us the whole playoffs. I think we’ve got some key goals from the PP as well. I think that’s got to continue for us. Keep working and keep getting better every day and I think we’re on a good road there.”


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn — Tyler Seguin — Alexander Radulov

Mattias JanmarkJoe PavelskiDenis Gurianov

Roope HintzJason DickinsonCorey Perry

Andrew CoglianoRadek FaksaBlake Comeau

Esa LindellJohn Klingberg

Jamie Oleksiak — Miro Heiskanen

Andrej SekeraTaylor Fedun

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Nick Caamano, Ty Dellandrea, Justin Dowling, Joel Kiviranta, Jason Robertson, Gavin Bayreuther, Joel Hanley, Thomas Harley, Landon Bow, Jake Oettinger

Unfit to play: Stephen Johns


Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau — Sean Monahan — Elias Lindholm

Andrew Mangiapane — Mikael Backlund — Tobias Rieder

Milan LucicSam BennettDillon Dube

Zac RinaldoDerek Ryan — Alan Quine

Mark GiordanoTJ Brodie

Noah HanifinRasmus Andersson

Derek ForbortErik Gustafsson

Cam Talbot

David Rittich

Scratched: Austin Czarnik, Byron Froese, Mark Jankowski, Buddy Robinson, Oliver Kylington, Michael Stone, Juuso Valimaki, Alexander Yelesin, Jon Gillies, Artyom Zagidulin

Unfit to play: Matthew Tkachuk

NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report

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