Jake Oettinger shines in first playoff start despite 1-0 loss to Flames

National pundits didn’t have high hopes for the Dallas Stars in their first-round playoff game against the Calgary Flames. They weren’t sure if the Stars’ budding superstar goaltender Jake Oettinger was ready for the playoff stage.

Many reporters also pointed to Calgary’s fuller scoring lineup, including their 40-goal scoring trio. They also criticized the Stars’ negative goal differential and were quick to say Dallas was lucky to make the playoffs.

On Tuesday May 3, Oettinger put a categorical end to those inexperienced worries despite the 1-0 defeat. The 23-year-old Oettinger not only held firm between the posts in his first playoff start, but could be proven to be the best player on the ice for either team.

Oettinger has playoff experience as he replaced Anton Khudobin twice during the Stars’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2020. Oettinger relieved Khudobin in a 3-0 loss to Vegas in the from Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals and back into the Stars. ‘ Lost 5-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against Tampa Bay Lighting.

However, none of these games provided an intense atmosphere like the Scotiabank Saddledome. Oettinger mentioned after the match that he knew the match was going to be intense.

“I’ve been to playoff games as a fan and kind of knew the intensity, but when you’re between the pipes it’s a whole different ballgame,” Oettinger said in an interview with post-game on Bally Sports Southwest. “It’s a dream come true to be a starting goaltender in the playoffs here and I’m just going to try to keep giving my team a chance to win.

Oettinger made 25 of 26 saves with the only goal awarded to Elias Lindholm on a nice tic-tac-toe passing play on the Flames’ first power play of the game.

The Flames’ top three players combined for the goal as Lindholm won the faceoff against Johnny Gaudreau, who quickly passed to Matthew Tkachuk and he fed his pass to Lindholm for the one-timer from the faceoff spot. straight game.

Has Oettinger stopped such goals in the past? Absolutely. But Lindholm and the Flames deserve all the points for the goal because the puck was on the net before Oettinger had time to get his glove in properly.

“All three do different things very well and it will be essential for us to continue to shut them down,” Oettinger said. “I didn’t think they had much tonight. I think we did a good job minimizing what they had and we have to keep doing that if we’re going to be successful.

Of course, Dallas was outplayed in the first period and the Stars did it a disservice by allowing the Flames the first nine shots on net.

For the remainder of the game, Oettinger looked unfazed for the time being and as the game wore on it was clear he was in a zone.

It’s frustrating to think about how Oettinger would have been perceived had the Stars been able to manage a bit of scoring support, but if this trend of toughness continues, Dallas has a great chance of stealing the series from the division champions. Peaceful.

Oettinger read the puck well throughout the night, including the Flames’ consistent shots from the point and a few deflections along the way.

Oettinger was also extremely active playing the puck, which at times neutralized the Flames’ forecheck and he didn’t do much with the puck either – see the Mike Smith blunder that cost the Oilers gold. Edmonton their first game against the Los Angeles Kings.

After giving up the first goal on the power play, Oettinger and the Stars ended the Flames’ power play at 10th for the rest of the night, but it wasn’t as easy as Oettinger made it. believe.

Oettinger was aggressive coming out on shots, made patient saves on odd runs, including a key save on Andrew Mangiapane on a 2-on-1 in the second half.

Oettinger made crucial pad saves on Flames shots from the slot, including one from Lindholm on the Flames’ 5-on-3 chance late in the second period.

Tkachuk tested Oettinger with a rush on the ice in the opening minute of the third period and once again Oettinger was up to the task.

Oettinger also had great rebound control throughout the game and made big back-to-back saves on Oliver Kylington and Chris Tanev when the rebound strayed away from him in the third.

For Oettinger to step into Calgary’s hostile atmosphere and play the way he did, optimism for the Stars’ chances must be greater than they were before Game 1.

Plus, it’s clear the Stars have their goaltender of the future, and it might be confusing to think about if you remember he started the season as a minor with the Texas Stars. Bowness mentioned during the postgame conference that he was proud of the way he did in his first playoff start.

“He was exceptional [in] his first playoff start,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said in a postgame interview on Bally Sports Southwest. “People forget he started the year as a minor. We had [Ben] Bishop. We have had [Brayden] Holby. We have had [Anton] Khudobin. None of these guys are here. Now we’re leaving with Jake. It’s his first NHL [playoff] start in a very tough rink against a very good team. He did very well. I am very happy for him. Very proud.”

In 48 games played this season, Oettinger was 30-15-1 with a career-best save percentage of 0.914 and a career-best goals-against-average of 2.53.

Oettinger finished Game 1 against the Flames with a .962 save percentage.

If the Stars can find their offense, which has been their main problem for most of the season, then they have a great chance of making this series tough on the Flames.

In 2020, when the Stars beat the Flames 4-2 in the first round, the Flames won Game 1 by the score of 3-2. Dallas trailed that streak 2-1 before picking up three wins to close the series.

Calgary is decidedly better in front of goal with Jacob Markström at the helm and this streak could turn into a goalie battle, but as long as Oettinger plays the way he has for most of the season, the future is promising not only for this series, but for several playoffs to come.

Dallas is in good hands with Jake Oettinger.