The Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames wrapped up an exciting Thursday of playoff hockey with what was probably the wildest game of the day.
Even though they let a two-goal lead slip away with less than 10 minutes to play, the Stars were able to escape with a 5-4 win to even their series at one game each.
It was probably not the type of game you would have expected from these two teams given their offensive struggles throughout the season.
Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak scored the game-winning goal with less than a minute to play in regulation when he found himself alone in the Calgary zone, taking advantage of a blown line change. That goal came just minutes after the Stars had allowed the Flames to tie the game and was set up by a beautiful pass from veteran winger Corey Perry.
Perry also scored a goal of his own earlier in the game.
Oleksiak’s goal is a massive one because it helped the Stars avoid what would have been a devastating collapse that would have put them in a two-game hole in the series. It would have been extremely difficult to climb back out of it.
While leading by two goals with less than eight minutes to play, the Stars were on a power play with a chance to put the game out of reach. It was at that point that Tobias Rieder scored a shorthanded goal to bring the Flames within one. Just a few minutes later, the Flames tied the game on a Sam Bennett power play goal just after Dallas’ Alexander Radulov had been called for an offensive zone penalty.
At that point it appeared as if the game was going to overtime, until Oleksiak scored his winning goal.
He was not the only Stars defenseman that had a huge game on Thursday.
Miro Heiskanen was the best player on the ice for either team, scoring a pair of goals and looking like a future Norris Trophy winner on pretty much every shift.
The numbers paint a pretty striking picture as to how dominant he was in this game. With Heiskanen on the ice during 5-on-5 play (nearly 20 minutes), the Stars held a 19-10 shot attempt advantage, a 14-5 shots on goal advantage, and a 3-0 goals edge with Heiskanen himself scoring two of the goals.
This game also featured a little bit of controversy thanks to a disallowed goal early in the third period.
With the Flames trailing by two, they appeared to get back to within one when Andrew Mangiapane appeared to score a goal five minutes into the period. Upon further review, though, it was determined that Mangiapane had used to a distinct kicking motion to put the puck in the net. What made it such a controversial play is the fact he was being hauled down to the ice as his skate made contact with the puck. The officials saw it as a kick and took the goal off the board.
That play was especially damaging for the Flames because it also resulted in an injury to Matthew Tkachuk.
Just before the Mangiapane sequence, Tkachuk was sandwiched between Jamie Benn and Oleksiak on a play that left him clearly shaken up. He exited the game and did not return.
Game 3 of the series takes place on Friday night.
No. 3 Dallas Stars vs. No. 6 Calgary Flames (Series tied 1-1)
Tuesday, Aug. 11: Flames 3, Stars 2 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Stars 5, Flames 4
Friday, Aug. 14: Dallas at Calgary, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: Dallas at Calgary, 2 p.m. ET – CNBC
*Tuesday, Aug. 18: Calgary at Dallas – TBD
*Thursday, Aug. 20: Dallas at Calgary – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Dallas at Calgary – TBD
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.