CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames clawed their way back from a 3-0 deficit but couldn't find the equalizer, falling to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.
With the setback, Calgary fell to 1-3-1 on the season while the Hurricanes picked up their first victory of the season, improving to 1-1-2.
Carolina had squandered two three-goal leads heading into Calgary but managed to hang on for the win against the Flames.
Stalberg scored the winning goal 4:55 into the middle frame, his first of the season when he took a pass from Klas Dahlbeck at the Flames blueline and broke in alone. Stalberg went to his backhand and the puck trickled past the goal after Elliott caught a piece of it with his glove.
Tuevo Teravainen, Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner rounded out the scoring for the Hurricanes. Eddie Lack stopped 24 shots for Carolina.
Troy Brouwer scored his third goal of the campaign while Johnny Gaudreau netted his first of the season. Brian Elliott made 28 saves in goal for the Flames.
The Flames surrendered a pair of powerplay goals in 8 chances for Carolina while Calgary's powerplay went 0-6. The Flames have just a single powerplay marker in 24 opportunities this season.
"What's frustrating me is the specialty teams, it was 3-2 until the last five-on-three," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. "[The Hurricanes] were one-for-six on the power play, and we were zero-for-six. That's the difference for me; they had a power play goal and we didn't."
"I think it took a lot of life out of us in the beginning ... a couple of times our power play had chances to bail us out [but] we didn't get anything."
The 'Canes hit the scoreboard first 7:55 into the opening period when Noah Hanifin feathered the puck past Jyrki Jokipakka to a wide open Teravainen, whose initial shot was denied by Elliott but then buried his own rebound.
"It's not a whole game issue, it's just slight breakdowns," Elliott said. "It starts with me. I've got to make a save here and there, too, to keep us in it. It's hard coming back from these games when you spot them a couple of goals, and you're always working from behind."
The Flames best opportunity to even the game early came at the 8:04 mark of the first period. Lee Stempniak was assessed a four-minute double-minor for high-sticking when his stick clipped Mark Giordano in the face. The Flames were unable to convert but another infraction followed shortly after. Calgary couldn't capitalize on the six minutes of powerplay time and 'Canes retained the lead.
"I think we're not simplifying and getting pucks and people to the net enough," Giordano said. "It's easy to say but a lot of this ... when you're struggling like this it comes down to battles, and winning those battles and finding ways to get an ugly win.
"You can't lose special teams battles in the league or it costs you games."
Rask added to Carolina's lead at 16:12 of the first period. With Lance Bouma and Alex Chaisson each serving minors, Rask had plenty of room in the Flames' zone, danced to the top of the faceoff circle and wired a wrist shot into the top corner past a screened Elliott.
"You've got to use it as motivation out there and can't let it impact our game," Giordano continued. "Emotion is not a bad thing sometimes, we just have to use it in a positive way and get through this.
"I think some of the goals we are giving up are way too easy and it's costing us games"
Brouwer finally got the Flames on the scoreboard when he picked off a Justin Faulk pass at the 'Canes blueline and broke in, beating Lack with a hard wrister to the short-side.
Video: CAR@CGY: Brouwer steals feed, fires wrister by Lack
Gaudreau got the monkey off his back and gave the Flames some hope 8:03 into the third period. The Flames forward picked up a pass from Dougie Hamilton, cut across the crease and out-waited Lack, sliding the puck into the net to cut the Hurricanes lead to 3-2.
Calgary pushed in the final ten minutes but a pair of minor penalties in the final minutes sealed the game for Carolina.
Skinner put a bow on the match with 34 seconds left in regulation, with the 'Canes on a five-on-three powerplay, Skinner one-timed the puck past Elliott.
"You've got to work your way out of it, it doesn't just happen on its own," Elliott continued. "It's hard work and the dedication to our game plan that will get us out of this hole here."
NOTES: Calgary went with the same lineup as they had in the Flames' win over Buffalo on Tuesday. Scratched were Dennis Wideman, Freddie Hamilton and Nicklas Grossmann.
UP NEXT: The Flames finish their homestand on Saturday with a date against the St. Louis Blues, 8 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome. (SN360, SN1, Fan960).