Two days after getting blown out by the Chicago Blackhawks, the Dallas Stars rebounded by picking up a big two points. The Stars built a 3-0 lead in the first period and then held off the Calgary Flames for a 4-3 victory at American Airlines Center Monday night.
“That was a big win for us, especially after our last game,” said Stars forward Eric Nystrom. “We wanted to bounce back and have a good effort. We did for the most part. That’s a huge two points and we are right back in the thick of things. It was tough the past couple of days and we are right back in it.”
The win snapped a four-game winless streak for the Stars, pushed their record to 13-12-3 and pulled them to within one point of the final playoff spot with 20 games still left to play.
“It was a big win,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We clawed our way a little bit to the surface here. We’ve still got a few feet to go.”
The Stars put together an impressive first period, outshooting the Flames 12-5 and outscoring them 3-0. A little less than five minutes after Antoine Roussel missed on a penalty shot chance, Erik Cole gave the Stars a 1-0 lead when his shot from the right wing bounced off a Calgary skate and past goaltender Joey MacDonald at the 13:07 mark.
Nystrom made it 2-0 at the 15:49 mark, scoring off the rebound of a Roussel chance off the rush.
Less than three minutes later, Ray Whitney set up Loui Eriksson, who scored from the left circle to make it a 3-0 game with 1:49 left in the first.
“It was simple. It wasn’t anything fancy,” Gulutzan said of the team’s first period. “We were doing simple things to win the game.”
The Stars almost made it 4-0 early in the second, but Flames goaltender Joey MacDonald made a great save on Brenden Morrow with the Stars on the power play.
Then the Flames got back into the game in the second when the Stars ran into some penalty trouble. Cody Eakin took an interference minor midway through the period and 13 seconds later Jiri Hudler scored to make it a 3-1 game at 11:30 of the second.
Just 95 seconds later Jordie Benn was called for hooking and the Flames scored on the power play again. Jay Bouwmeester tallied off a backhand from the left circle to make it a 3-2 game at the 14:35 mark.
“They got themselves back in the game, got some momentum,” said Gulutzan.
The Stars extended their lead when Eriksson scored off the rebound of a Jamie Benn shot on the rush to make it a 4-2 game with 7:54 remaining.
Alex Tanguay scored with 4:46 left in the third to make it a 4-3 game, but the Flames couldn’t get the equalizer.
“I felt like it shouldn’t have been that close,” said Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who made 16 saves in the game. “They got maybe three shots in the third period and a couple in the first. We just made it interesting with a couple penalties in the second and a weird play there in the third when they got that one goal. But it was nice to get the two points. That’s what’s most important.”
Stars battle through illness
Stars defenseman Philip Larsen was expected to play in Monday’s game, but ended up sitting out due to illness. Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said several players were battling with illness during the game, forcing him to shuffle things around.
“We had six guys who were feverish and fluish today,” Gulutzan said. “We had to shuffle, we had certain guys out at certain times with certain things during the game, and the penalties and the fight. We did a little shuffling.”
Forward Ryan Garbutt is expected to be out another week or two with a hand injury. Gulutzan said Garbutt would not travel with the team to Colorado and Los Angeles.
Defenseman Aaron Rome, who has missed ten games with a broken foot, took part in Monday morning’s skate. Rome could return by the end of the month, according to Gulutzan.
Flames coach Hartley not a fan of Eakin’s hit on Stajan
Calgary coach Bob Hartley did not like Cody Eakin’s hit on Matt Stajan in the second period. Eakin was given an interference minor for the hit, which touched off a scrum that resulted in Eakin and Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman picking up roughing minors.
“I remember when they instituted the five minute for interference. I think that’s a classic case. That’s one of the dirtiest hits that I’ve seen,” Hartley said. “Those hits can end careers. But we replied well. We took advantage on the power play but definitely we need to take those hits out of our game.”