DALLAS -- The Calgary Flames greatly helped their own chances of advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and dealt a serious blow to the postseason hopes of the Dallas Stars with a 5-3 victory at American Airlines Center on Monday.
Calgary (42-28-7), third in the Pacific Division, scored three unanswered goals in a span of 6:49 in the second period to overcome a 2-1 deficit. The Flames got a goal and an assist each from Johnny Gaudreau, Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman. Jonas Hiller made 33 saves; his teammates helped by blocking 32 shots, and the Stars missed the net on 32 others.
The Flames are 7-2-1 in the second game of back-to-backs. They flew to Dallas after a 5-2 road victory against the Nashville Predators on Sunday.
"I think our conditioning and our commitment [has been the difference]," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "Our players are working hard. We always find a way to get back in games. That speaks volumes about the leadership of this hockey club and the fact that our young players are really focusing on being good teammates and listening to our leaders."
Calgary leads the Los Angeles Kings by three points in the race for the final guaranteed playoff berth in the Pacific Division. The Flames trail the second-place Vancouver Canucks by two points. The Canucks and Kings each have a game in hand on the Flames.
Jamie Benn had two assists and Jason Spezza a goal and an assist for Dallas (37-30-10), which remained six points behind points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card from the Western Conference. Jason Demers and Tyler Seguin also scored for the Stars, who have five games remaining.
"We emptied the tank again and we played extremely hard," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "There were some tough breaks. But for me it's not over yet. We're going to keep pushing."
Dallas started strong and took the lead when Spezza scored his 17th goal of the season on a shot from the right point 40 seconds into the game. Patrick Eaves fed Spezza with a backhand pass near the Dallas blue line, Spezza then raced up the ice and finished with a wrist shot that beat Hiller high to his glove side.
Calgary answered at 9:34 when Wideman tied the game with a power-play goal. After receiving a pass from Gaudreau, Wideman was left open in the slot and he beat Lehtonen with a wrist shot over his glove for his 14th goal of the season.
Dallas regained the lead with 34 seconds remaining in the period on Seguin's power-play goal. Seguin beat Hiller with a low wrist shot from the left circle that was just inside the far post. It was his 35th goal of the season.
Calgary tied it again at 9:25 of the second period when Hudler, appearing in his 600th NHL game, scored his 29th goal of the season with a shot that deflected into the net off Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. The goal came during a delayed penalty with Hiller on the bench for an extra attacker. Lehtonen stopped Kris Russell's wrist shot from the left point, but Hudler collected the rebound and took a wrist shot that hit Goligoski's right arm and went through Lehtonen's five-hole.
"It was a delayed penalty," Hudler said. "[Russell] just shot it on net. I thought the referee was going to blow the whistle, but he didn't so it's good for us. It was lucky. Obviously, it was a lucky, lucky bounce."
The Flames went ahead to stay at 12:28 when Diaz, a defenseman, scored on a wraparound. Diaz gained possession in the right side of the Dallas zone and skated toward the far post, where Lehtonen came out and failed in his attempt to steal the puck. With Lehtonen out of position, Diaz skated behind the net and finished from the near post for his second goal of the season and first since Feb. 2.
"I was too aggressive and banking on him shooting," Lehtonen said. "Then I got stuck there, and he was able to go around. I think our D was interfered there too, and just bad decision-making by me on that particular play."
Calgary made it 4-2 at 16:14 when Gaudreau scored his 22nd goal of the season. Sean Monahan set up Gaudreau beautifully with a pass from behind the net, and Gaudreau's wrist shot from the slot sailed over Lehtonen's glove.
"They played a pretty good second half of that second period, obviously," Benn said. "They found a way to get a bunch of goals and it made the difference in the game."
That goal ended Lehtonen's evening; he was replaced by Jhonas Enroth after allowing four goals on 21 shots.
"I think it was more today about just trying to get some new blood there and new excitement," Lehtonen said of being pulled. "That's just part of being a goalie. Some nights I maybe could have grabbed a couple of those. Today I didn't."
Late in the second, Monahan took a high stick from Dallas rookie forward Brett Ritchie, a play that didn't sit well with Hartley.
"I definitely think that it's a hit to the head," Hartley said. "There's no need for this. We saw it, but the League reviews every play so we'll let it to the league office to decide."
Dallas made it 4-3 when Demers scored his fifth of the season 3:44 into the third period. Demers beat Hiller low on his blocker side with a one-timer from the right point that appeared to be deflected.
Hiller made a huge save on Eaves with 7:15 remaining, denying his backhand at close range. The Stars outshot the Flames 15-4 in the final period but couldn't get the tying goal, and Backlund hit the empty net to put the game away.