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Flames not looking for more of the same after wild Game 1

‘We’ve got to be better with the lead. We had a four-goal lead twice. That should be enough in the playoffs. We’ll be better next game’

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It was high-scoring. It was thrilling. It was back-and-forth hockey.

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The Calgary Flames would prefer if it didn’t happen again.

The Flames are obviously pleased to be up 1-0 on the Edmonton Oilers in their Round 2 playoff series. They won’t say no to scoring nine goals again.

But allowing six goals? Not good enough.

Seeing Connor McDavid score a goal and add three assists? The Flames definitely need to prevent that from happening again, and it’s going to take everyone getting involved.

“That is the mindset,” said Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. “He’s a great player. He’s the best player in the league. He was the best player on the ice last night. Not even close.

“So at the end of the series if Connor McDavid gets four points a game, have a good next series, Connor.”

While the 15 goals the Flames and Oilers shared on Wednesday night might have been the talk of the hockey world, neither team was happy with the way the game went.

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The Flames pride themselves on playing a tight-checking game where they keep the puck in their opponents’ zone and limit goal-scoring opportunities.

That didn’t happen on Wednesday night.

“Not good. Not good at all,” said Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, who had a hat-trick in the game. “Probably our worst game of the playoffs so far. We got super lucky. That’s just not the recipe for success. Maybe we win this one, but we’re not going to win many more if we’re going to play like that. I thought we had a great start. Second period really got away from us. I think once we got a lead in the third we played a little bit better.

“We’ve got to be better with the lead. We had a four-goal lead twice. That should be enough in the playoffs. We’ll be better next game.”

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Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames celebrates after scoring against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period of Game 1 of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scotiabank Saddledome on May 18, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames celebrates after scoring against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period of Game 1 of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scotiabank Saddledome on May 18, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Photo by Derek Leung /Getty Images

There was a 12-minute stretch in the late second and early third period that seemed to be a particular concern for the Flames. They were up 6-2 midway through the second frame, only for the Oilers to come storming back. The game was tied at 6-6 less than 90 seconds into the third.

McDavid had assists on two of those goals and the Flames will be doubling down on doing whatever it is they need to do to limit their impact.

“I thought yesterday was a lot of, if we just communicated out there, I felt there were a couple of situations where we just didn’t communicate good enough,” said Flames center Elias Lindholm. “We could’ve done that better. It’s just small things like that and obviously late in the second, we have to know the clock better and we’re up two or three and they pretty much came back to a 6-5 game. Just have to know the clock and communicate better and watch a couple of clips tomorrow and get ready.”

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After their low-scoring, defensively-focused first round series against the Dallas Stars, it was something of a shock to the system to see the Flames and Oilers play such a free-flowing game on Wednesday night.

It is worth noting, though, that the Flames generated plenty of offense against the Stars. It’s just that Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger stood on his head and kept the puck out of the net. The Oilers goaltending tandem of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen weren’t nearly as effective, but the Flames still weren’t over the moon about the way they played offensively.

“Quite honestly, it sounds crazy because we scored nine goals, but our passing and our shooting and our skill execution was very sloppy,” Sutter said. “To be quite honest, we were fortunate to win the game. Connor McDavid played 25 minutes and had a goal and three assists. He was the dominant player last night.”

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Don’t expect the Flames to try to reinvent the wheel ahead of Game 2. Instead, expect them to double down on the things that got them to the second round of the playoffs in the first place.

There were stretches of Wednesday’s game where the Flames were totally dominant. They’d limit the Oilers to less than 10 shots through the first 29 minutes or so of the game. Nobody outside of the Oilers’ top two lines had any real offensive impact and the Flames locked down in the third period when they’d reclaimed the lead.

They just need to do it for the full 60 minutes.

“We were all aware that we weren’t as good defensively as we’re used to,” Lindholm said. “So that’s something we have to clean up for tomorrow for sure.”

daustin@postmedia.com

Twitter: @DannyAustin_9

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