Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Dallas Stars 4, Calgary Flames 3
Stars finally manage a home win, close to within a point of the playoffs.
DALLAS The Dallas Stars narrowly avoided another catastrophic home loss Monday night at the American Airlines Center, defeating the Calgary Flames 4-3 to end a four-game losing streak. The win improved Dallas to 13-12-3 on the season, just one point behind 8th place San Jose, who lose in regulation later in the evening to the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks. The Flames, who had previously blown out the Stars in their first two meetings of the season, fell to 11-12-4.
Following one of the worst losses in franchise history Saturday night, an 8-1 shellacking by the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks, the Stars came out with purpose and aggression in the first period Monday. They outshot the Flames 12-5, crashed the net and played an up-tempo, physical game that had Calgary reeling. Dallas finally broke through on the scoresheet at 13:07, when, just a minute after Stars' fourth line sparkplug Antoine Roussel missed on a penalty shot, Erik Cole took a long shot from the boards that somehow eluded Flames netminder Joey MacDonald for Cole's second goal as a Star and a 1-0 lead.
Just under three minutes later, former Flame Eric Nystrom and Roussel came streaking down the ice. Nystrom got the puck to Roussel, who couldn't get a good shot off but Nystrom swooped in and rifled the loose puck from the side of the crease for his third of the season and a 2-0 lead.
Then just over two minutes after that, the Stars' potent second line cycled the puck around the Calgary net. Derek Roy passed to Ray Whitney, who dished it off to a wide-open Loui Eriksson in front of the net. Eriksson tapped it in for his eighth of the season and a commanding 3-0 lead.
Dallas nearly took a four-goal lead midway through the second period when Whitney found an uncovered Brenden Morrow waiting on the backdoor on a powerplay. Morrow's shot was just barely gloved by MacDonald to preserve the three-goal deficit. Minutes later, Cody Eakin was penalized for interference and the Flames capitalized immediately when Jiri Hudler deflected in a shot from the point for his sixth of the season to make it 3-1 Dallas. Three minutes after that at 14:35 of the second and with Dallas on yet another penalty kill, Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester backhanded the puck up and over Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen to make it a one-goal game.
Dallas got the insurance goal they needed at 12:06 of the third when Whitney blocked a shot at his own blue line, skated into the Flames zone and dropped the puck for Eriksson. Whitney's move fooled both Calgary defensemen, leaving Eriksson open, and he hit Jamie Benn with a pass before getting it right back and rifling it in for his second of the night and a 4-2 lead.
Calgary brought it back to within one when Alex Tanguay snuck behind both Stephane Robidas and Brenden Dillon, accepted a pass off the boards from Star-killer Michael Cammalleri, and got the puck around Lehtonen and into the net for ninth of the season and a 4-3 game.
The Flames pressed the attack in the final seconds, but a gutsy play by Robidas to clear the zone just after getting flattened sealed the win.
Lehtonen had a so-so day, stopping 16 of the 19 shots he faced to improve to 10-6-2 on the year. MacDonald was done in by a few early softies, made just 20 saves on 24 shots and fell to 3-5-1.
Dallas' next game is Wednesday night in Colorado, where they will face the 10-14-4 Avalanche.