DALLAS -- In a game crucial to the playoff hopes of both clubs, it was the Dallas Stars who got two goals from All-Star center Jamie Benn in a 4-1 win against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center on Saturday.
"It was a big two points … good to get a nice win on an emotional night," Benn said. "I thought we had a strong start and our goalie played great once again."
Benn scored 1:37 into the game before adding a second tally at 16:27 of the third to ensure the victory for Dallas (41-29-5, 87 points). The Stars also got goals from Michael Ryder in the first and an empty-netter from captain Brenden Morrow late in the third. Kari Lehtonen stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced.
"I can't say much more (about Lehtonen)," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He does the right things every day. He's a great pro for us."
Calgary (34-27-15, 83 points) saw its diminishing playoff hopes take a further hit with the loss. However, these clubs do meet again Monday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
"We got out on the ice and it just seemed like we were standing and watching and just kind of caught up in it," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "You give up two goals in that period of time and it puts you behind the eight ball. It doesn't matter whether it's a home game or a road game. It's a tough thing to come back at this time of year after being down two."
Benn gave the Stars an early lead just 1:37 in when he skated around the Flames goal and slipped the puck inside the right post for his 23rd of the season. Just seconds before, a Benn backhanded attempt had been denied by Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and another attempt had gone wide of the Flames' net.
Picking up the primary assist on the Benn tally was Adam Burish, who normally skates on Dallas' fourth line. However, Gulutzan dropped Morrow to that line, moving Burish up and the move paid quick dividends.
"We just wanted to spread things out a little bit," Gulutzan said. "(We're) looking for more ice from a couple of guys. (We've) got a couple of guys who are banged up, so we're just trying to spread it around a little."
Dallas doubled its lead at 7:17 when Ryder scored his 33rd of the season, beating Kiprusoff with wrist shot from the right faceoff circle.
The Flames were able to pull one back at 12:27 of the first with Michael Cammalleri's shot from the right circle landed in the back of the net.
The second period was pretty quiet until tempers flared in the final seconds. It all started when Calgary's Olli Jokinen and the Stars' Sheldon Souray got in a shoving match in front of the Dallas net. After several other confrontations, 10 minutes in penalties were issued, including a double-minor for roughing to Souray.
Calgary launched an assault on the Stars' net in the third period, outshooting Dallas 14-3 at one point. Lehtonen came up with a huge save 1:27 into the final frame, denying a one-timer by Matt Stajan from the edge of the crease.
"We had to kill that penalty right at the start, that I wasn't a fan of that going against us," Gulutzan said. "But I think we saw a focused Calgary team that came at us at the start. But we got the kill and weathered some stuff there."
Dallas put the Flames on the power play at 12:12 when Burish was sent to the box for roughing. However, the Stars' penalty killers delivered another stellar effort to preserve the one-goal lead.
Kiprusoff left the Calgary net with approximately 90 seconds left, just before Morrow fired one into the empty net for his 10th of the season. Kiprusoff made 16 saves in a losing effort for the Flames.