The Calgary Flames got up off the mat in the third period of their Game 5 against Dallas last night. Trailing 1-0 and not having scored at home in the series in seven periods, it was looking pretty bleak. The Stars however cannot ever score enough to ever put a team away, no matter how great Jake Oettinger is playing in net. Mikael Backlund tipped home a gorgeous Andrew Mangiapane feed through the forest to tie it:
And then Mangiapane took matters into his own hands a few minutes later, capitalizing on a turnover in the neutral zone to come up with this tracer bullet to beat Oettinger and provide the winner:
However, the real story of the Flames was told in the stands. It’s always jarring to see the reconstitution of the Red Mile when the Flames make the playoffs. It feels like almost everyone in the Saddledome stands isn’t just wearing red, but wearing a Flames jersey. But in the third period last night, the TV coverage focused on a particular couple, or duo, or something else (it wasn’t easy to tell) as the Flames turned the series on its head:
This was after Backlund’s equalizer, and the first conclusion most would jump to is that our woman here is just humoring the dude on her right on his big night (also, wasn’t she the woman who tempted Dexter in Season 2?). But look closer, you know that face. Backlund’s goal only made it 1-1. The Flames have struggled to score all series. She knows there’s a long way to go here, and so much could go wrong. She’s relieved for sure, but she’s not selling out on this moment yet. It’s not like the Flames’ playoff history or reputation instills a lot of confidence in the future. And she can’t take her companion’s unbridled excitement right now. It’s going to jinx it!
Also, she has that expression we’ve all seen, which is she’s spent the night having offsides and roughing penalties explained to her and she FUCKING KNOWS. She’s also come to the realization she’s come to the biggest event in Calgary in years with a pumped up backwards-hat bro, and no one ever enjoys that realization.
But by the time Mangiapane nets the winner, it’s clearly become too much:
Even as the Flames season became redefined, her choice to attend the game with this stiff has outweighed it all. Look, we’ve all had companions to games we wanted to go to and couldn’t find anyone else but someone we weren’t positive we could spend three hours or nine innings next to. But we were positive we couldn’t. Here she’s seen the most important Flames goal for a while, sullied by Sigma Alpha Fuckwit. She’ll tell her friends for years she was there and edit him out, but deep down she’ll know what the experience really was. You can see the waning light in her eyes. You can sense the dread that she’ll have to hear about how important that goal was and what a season Mangiapane has had on the ride home or the walk to the bar, when she knows all that. She knows that Mangiapane is an RFA after the season, but she knows that’s a concern for another day. There’s still one more win in this series to go, and an epic Battle of Alberta could wait. The Avs are still in the distance.
And all that’s buried under just getting through all of this with this guy. We all make our own choices. Was it worth it? In time she’ll think so. The Night Mangiapane Saved The Flames. But it’s hard to see that oasis in the moment, with Douche Canoe’s arm around you yelling in your ear. She’s looking for it, in the distance. You’ll get there, ma’am. We promised.