The Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars will take their playoff series the distance to a seventh and deciding game.
Dallas doubled the visiting Flames 4-2 on Friday to even up their conference quarterfinal at three wins apiece.
Stars defenceman Miro Heiskanen’s goal late in the second period stood up as the game-winner for the Stars, who will try to bounce the Flames from the post-season Sunday in Calgary.
Roope Hintz and Michael Raffl also scored for Dallas with Tyler Seguin adding an empty-net goal in front of a sellout of 18,532 at American Airlines Center.
Stars goalie Jake Oettinger and Flames counterpart Jacob Markstrom both had 36 saves.
Michael Stone had a goal and an assist and Mikael Backlund scored in the second period to draw Calgary even before Heiskanen’s game-winner.
WATCH | Heiskanen scores winner:
“A hell of a game,” Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said. “Just couldn’t get the equalizer.”
Calgary (50-21-11) topped the Pacific Division, while the Stars (46-30-6) earned the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.
The Flames, 25-9-7 at the Saddledome in the regular season, will be under pressure to maintain their mastery of home ice and advance to the second round for the first time since 2015 and just the second time in the last 17 years.
“It’s hard to win the last one and obviously a lot of us haven’t been past the first round,” Flames forward Elias Lindholm said. “Hopefully we get it done Sunday.
“That’s why we fought so hard all year, to have home ice in Game 7. We’re in a good spot, so we’ve just got to regroup and come back with a better effort on Sunday. We’ve got find a way to score more than two goals.”
Teams tying a series 3-3 to force a Game 7 own an all-time series record of 88-96, according to NHL statisticians.
Markstrom didn’t leave his net for an extra Flames attacker until less than a minute remained in the game as the Flames struggled to sustain offensive-zone pressure.
NO WORDS MARKY! OMG! <a href=”https://t.co/sWHhp9sIDZ”>pic.twitter.com/sWHhp9sIDZ</a>
Instead of shooting into the empty net for his second of the game, Hintz passed the puck off to Seguin for the goal.
“That was probably one of the best third periods we’ve played all year,” said Stars forward Rick Bowness. “We didn’t get into the playoffs to be a stepping stone for the second round. Here we are going into a Game 7.”
Dallas outshot Calgary for the first time in the series with a 30-20 margin over the second and third periods.
Trailing 2-0 early in the second period, the Flames pulled even by the 12-minute mark, but Heiskanen gave the Stars a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.
Calgary didn’t clear the puck following Markstrom’s pad save on Hintz, which allowed the Stars to cycle the puck up to Heiskanen. He threaded a shot from the centre-high slot through traffic and by Markstrom at 17:32.
A second after a Stars’ penalty expired, Backlund’s sharp-angled shot deflected off Oettinger and Heskainen and into the net for Backlund’s third of the series.
Stone halved the deficit at 8:09 off the rush on a cross-ice feed from Johnny Gaudreau. Stone was inserted into the lineup for Game 4 as Sutter opted to go with seven defencemen and 11 forwards for three straight games.
Johnny + Stoney = GOAL! <a href=”https://t.co/s2GSw9nH80″>pic.twitter.com/s2GSw9nH80</a>
The hosts led 2-0 at 6:04 when Joel Kiravanta fought off Calgary’s Oliver Kylington to get a shot away on Markstrom. Raffl dove to poke the rebound in.
Flames defenceman Chris Tanev was hurt in the second period and didn’t play the third. Sutter didn’t provide the reason.
Stars forward Luke Glendening headed to the dressing room following an open-ice check by Calgary defenceman Nikita Zadorov early in the second period. He was back on the bench to start the third period, but didn’t return to the ice.
WATCH | Glendening exits game with injury:
“He cleared the concussion protocol, but he had a lower-body injury that kept him out,” Bowness said.
Quick puck cycling in the opening period gave the Flames sustained offensive-zone time and an 18-10 edge in shots, but the Stars emerged from the opening period with a 1-0 lead.
It was the first questionable goal Markstrom allowed in the series.
“I thought he was alright,” Sutter said. “If we’d have won, then he would have been better than alright.”