Stars squander two-goal lead, fall to Flames, 4-3

Hoping to build off a big comeback win in Vancouver Thursday night, the Dallas Stars found themselves on the wrong side of a rally Sunday evening at American Airlines Center.  The Stars had a 3-1 lead after two periods, but couldn’t hold it and lost 4-3 to the Calgary Flames.

“It’s very disappointing, very disappointing that we didn’t come out with two points here,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.

Sunday’s loss marked the first time in a long time the Stars hadn’t picked up at least one point when leading after two periods. They were 71-0-8 in their last 79 games when up after 40 minutes. The last time they had not picked up at least a point was October 31, 2009 vs. Nashville. Add February 15, 2013 to the list.

“It’s tough to swallow when you’re going into the third period winning by two goals,” said Stars forward Reilly Smith.

The Flames scored twice early in the third to tie the game. Roman Horak scored off a rebound that bounced off Stars defenseman Rome. Just 45 seconds later Lee Stepniak set up a wide-open Matt Stajan, who scored from close range. Then, with 9:30 left in the game, Steve Begin scored off the rebound of a Chris Butler shot to give the Flames a 4-3 lead that would hold up for the rest of the game.

“It’s disappointing,” said Gulutzan. “We needed to be stronger in front of our net.”

“I think we made mistakes turning pucks over, giving them life,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “Two goals is a tough lead but when you aren’t doing the right things, making smart decisions with the puck, it turns back to haunt you real quick and that’s what happened to us in the third.”

The Stars built their 3-1 lead in an impressive second period, outshooting the Flames 22-12 and outscoring them 3-0. Antoine Rousel and Smith scored goals 56 second apart early in the second to put the Stars up 2-1 in the game.  Roussel set up shop in front of the Calgary net and had a Cody Eakin shot deflect off him and into the net. Smith scored on the rebound of his own shot to give the Stars the lead.

Ryan Garbutt scored on the rebound of a Stephane Robidas shot late in the period to put the Stars up 3-1, and the Stars appeared to be in good shape heading into the third and the Flames appeared to be on their heels.

“We had a good talk after the second period. I told them if we want to build some foundation to be a playoff team, it’s games like this that we need to win,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley. “We were up one zip, they scored three on us, and we came back and scored three on them. It won’t always work, but those are the good wins. We’re starting a two game road trip, and we’re heading to Phoenix with 20 smiles.”

There’s weren’t any smiles in the Dallas locker room after the game, just a lot of talk about the disappointment of letting two points slip away.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Smith. “With the big win in Vancouver, it’s kind of not worth it anymore because with those two points that we should have had tonight, we let them go.”

 Notes

*The Stars are 8-7-1 on the season. The Flames improved to 5-5-3.

*The Stars fell to 3-2-1 at home.

*Richard Bachman got the start in net for the Stars and stopped 22 of 26 shots.

*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 4-5 on the penalty kill.

*Stars center Jamie Benn’s six-game points streak ended.

*Tomas Vincour and Tom Wandell were healthy scratches for the Stars

*Kari Lehtonen (groin) and Ray Whitney (foot) are both on injured reserve.

*Attendance at Sunday’s game 17,340

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