The Calgary Flames advanced to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-0 win against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 of the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers series at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Thursday.
Cam Talbot made 31 saves for his third NHL postseason shutout and first since April 16, 2017, for the Edmonton Oilers.
“This is just one step in the big picture,” said Talbot, who had a 1.51 goals-against average and .945 save percentage in the series. “We knew this was going to be a hard-fought series, and I think we’ll be better for it playing in the qualifying round. We’re going to be a little bit more battle-tested. Guys in this room gained valuable playoff experience in this round. This was a huge team effort and something we needed moving forward, that valuable experience in all those situations.”
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Dillon Dube and Sam Bennett scored in the first period for the Flames, the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
“Just being able to lock it down in that game, that’s a big step for our group and just being ready for the next round, being able to withstand their push,” Dube said. “It was going to be a big one with their season on the line. That’s a big step for the group, being able to weather that storm.”
Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for the Jets, the No. 9 seed.
“I’ve never had a season like this where you’d faced so much adversity and not quit, right?” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “So that’s the value of … That’s how you should value yourself, how hard you compete in dire circumstances, and we just had a year of it. So the feeling we have now is complete emptiness. The payoff is nothing. Other than we’ll find it in a couple of weeks, a couple of months, the growth of some of these young men that will learn to be stronger, heavier players in the playoffs and will develop.”
The Jets played their third straight game without injured top-six forwards Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine. Scheifele sustained an Achilles injury in Game 1, but not a tear, Maurice said, and Laine has a sprained left hand.
“I would say I’m proud and I’m very disappointed that we just couldn’t catch a break,” Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler said. “I’m not saying that this series gets flipped on its head by having Mark and Patty — you’ve got to give Calgary a lot of credit — but I would have loved to have played a series with those two guys and seen how that would have shaken out. Put our best foot forward, and from there you never know what’s going to happen.”
Calgary will play the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, St. Louis Blues or Dallas Stars in the Western Conference First Round. The Avalanche (2-0-0), Golden Knights (2-0-0), Blues (0-2-0) and Stars (0-2-0) are playing in the round-robin portion of the Qualifiers to determine the top four seeds in the West.
“Great first step to move on here to the Sweet 16, but we’ve got to do a lot of the same things and stay focused on what we did well because it just gets tougher from here on in,” Flames forward Milan Lucic said. “It’s fun to win a playoff series here, playoff qualifier here, best-of-5. Looking forward to the next step even though we don’t know who we’re playing yet. We’re going to enjoy this one here tonight.”
The Jets have a 12.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery, to be held Monday.
“I’m going to have to give that one a little time before I appreciate the value of it,” Maurice said.
Dube put Calgary ahead 1-0 3:21 into the game when he scored on his second rebound opportunity for his first NHL postseason goal. It was the first time the Flames scored first in the series.
Dube was the 10th Flames forward to score in the series, held in Edmonton, the Western Conference hub city.
“It’s huge because it takes the pressure off our top guys to produce all the offense,” Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. “When you’re a team that has only one or two lines scoring, it’s easier for the other team to match up against you. I think we present a lot of tough matchups for other teams. I think you saw that a little bit in this series, and we will do that going forward too.”
Bennett made it 2-0 when he scored on a rebound with 0.7 seconds left.
Talbot made a shoulder save against Nikolaj Ehlers on a partial breakaway 29 seconds into the third period and a glove save on Ehlers at 6:48 to keep the Flames ahead by two.
Sean Monahan scored into an empty net at 16:59 to make it 3-0, and Rasmus Andersson scored into an empty net at 17:18 for the 4-0 final.
Monahan, who had an assist on Dube’s goal, scored six points (two goals, four assists) in the series.
The Flames are the first team to win a qualifier series in the West. The Carolina Hurricanes completed a three-game sweep of the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday.
NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report