(Calgary) Darryl Sutter isn’t about to reveal his plans, but the Flames have won back-to-back games with the coach giving more room to defensemen, at the cost of more forwards.

Using 11 forwards and seven defensemen instead of 12 and six in the last two wins has given the Dallas Stars defense headaches.

Leading 3-2 in the series, Calgary would reach the second round for only the second time in 17 years by winning at Dallas on Friday.

Down 1-0 after two periods in Game 5 on Wednesday, Sutter rallied forwards Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman in the third period.

Backlund scored the tying goal and Mangiapane the next in the Flames’ 3-1 win.

“Apart from the top line, we’ve pretty much all played with each other this season,” Milan Lucic said.

“We’re used to playing with everyone. When you are called upon, you know what to do and you try to succeed. »

Calgary ranked sixth in the NHL in goals this season.

Penalty units have been very strong with Calgary having a 90% hit rate, Dallas 89.5%.

The top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk played a big part in Calgary’s first two wins.

On a night when Gaudreau, Lindholm and Tkachuk drew even more Stars attention, Mangiapane and Backlund provided 5-on-5 goals. This element was missing from the Flames in the series.

Gaudreau’s 115 points in the regular season tied him for second with Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers.

“I’ve used 11-7 before. Believe me, it works, said Stars coach Rick Bowness, adding that it was commonplace when he was an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2014-2018.

“What’s hard to counter about that is that you see their best guys more often. And when you want to oppose such players, you never know when they will arrive on the ice, or with whom. »

When asked before Game 5 if he was keeping the 11-7 formula, Sutter replied “Why should I answer? Let’s bring in Rick and we’ll talk about the starting lineups, so the media don’t find it complicated. »



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