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Ducks vs Flames Game 4: The Series Pivots Here

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Simply put, a win gives the chance to close out on Sunday. A loss guarantees another trip to Calgary. Chicago waits either way.

Simon Despres knocks David Jones down during game 3.
Simon Despres knocks David Jones down during game 3.
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned From Game 3

As strong as the Ducks penalty kill has been this series (11/12) and in the playoffs (22/25), there are only so many times one can spot the opponent an extra man before being made to pay. Anaheim paid dearly in game three, allowing the game-tying goal by Johnny Gaudreau with 20 seconds remaining and Karri Ramo pulled for a five-on-three chance while Sami Vatanen sat for delay of game, while Mikael Backlund's overtime game winner came on a delayed call coming against Clayton Stoner. The Flames drew as many power plays in game three as they did in the first two games at Honda Center, as the Ducks struggled to adjust to the different officiating standard in the Stampede City.

That being said, it's worth remembering that the Ducks held the lead for 49:40 of the game and both out-shot (16-9) and out-attempted (31-29) the hosts through the first two periods. Calgary was allowed to do what they've done all year in overwhelming a 'prevent' defense late, showing the Anaheim shell game to be a self-inflicted confidence trick. As pointed out by Kid Ish, the drop in Ducks shot attempts and resulting waves of Calgary momentum in the final six minutes coincided with increased deployment of Nate Thompson. Really it wasn't a matter of learning anything new, rather a reinforcement of a season long problem that was shown to be able to affect playoff results too.

What Needs to Change From Last Game

The quick and dirty answer is a two point one: don't take as many penalties, and stop sending Thompson out while benching Rickard Rakell down the stretch. It's hard to believe that Calgary will again be afforded a three to one penalty advantage, but if the officiating standard is as snug for the guys in white as it was in game three adjustment will be necessary. As for the second point, well that's really up to the whims of Bruce Boudreau. A way that can guard against it though is keeping the forechecking pressure up  while maintaining an aggressive edge to control tempo, not being content with allowing Calgary to dictate play if they trail late.

Game Notes

Spending the two off days in the mountains of Banff following the game three loss, the Ducks mixed up the lower forward lines per LA Times Helene Elliott with Tomas Fleischmann replacing Kyle Palmieri on the third line with Rakell and Andrew Cogliano, and Jiri Sekac taking Emerson Etem 's spot with Thompson and Tim Jackman. The defense pairs remained unchanged. Boudreau refused to say whether those changes would be reflected in the lineup before game day. Both Ryan Kesler and Francois Beauchemin were quoted by The Score emphasizing the need to make it a 'boring game', getting back to aggressive, physical play along the boards.

For the Flames Lance Bouma was back skating with regular season linemates Matt Stajan and David Jones per their official website, though Bob Hartley's words on the matter were to praise Bouma's progress while quoting the day-to-day medical report. Micheal Ferland was back and skating with the Calgary extras, while Mark Giordano took part in the whole practice with limited contact albeit as part of the extra pair with John Ramage.

Fearless Prediction

A good time is had by all at the Unofficial, Unaffiliated, Outside-Of-Orange County Watch Party at the Tilted Kilt in Thousand Oaks as the Ducks remember they can't afford to shell against an opponent whose whole season has been predicated on late rallies, and put and keep their foot back on the throat of the Flames.