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Flames try to slow down surging Stars

by John Kreiser

STARS (7-5-1) at FLAMES (3-4-3)

TV: FS-Southwest+; TSN

Last 10: Dallas 5-4-1; Calgary 3-4-3

Season series: The teams are meeting for the first of three times this season; they'll face each other in Dallas on Sunday. The Stars won three of the four games last season, though the Flames won the last one in Calgary.

Big story: The Stars may not play beautiful hockey, but they've been playing winning hockey -- Dallas made it four in a row Tuesday night with a 4-1 win in Edmonton. The Flames are playing the second of a three-game homestand that began with a 2-1 shootout loss to Minnesota on Monday.

Team Scope:

Stars: Dallas is perfectly content to win ugly. The Stars got a pair of lucky-bounce goals in Edmonton on Tuesday as they beat the Oilers. Brenden Dillon scored on a shot that hit the glass and bounced into the net off the goaltender, and Eric Nystrom's shot in the first minute of the third period hit the hand of an Oiler, appeared to his goalie Devan Dubnyk in the mask and dropped into the net for the go-ahead goal.

"We are just trying to play hard right now," said goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who made 35 saves. "We know we are not the most skilled team out there with the biggest names. We are a hard-working club and everybody in this room feels we have a chance to win on any given night as long as we push ourselves. We have done well the last few games here and hopefully we can keep it going."

Flames: The loss of veteran goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to injury has opened the door for backup Leland Irving to get the first sustained action of his NHL career. Though the Flames claimed Joey MacDonald on waivers from Detroit this week, they've made it clear that Irving will get the chance to prove he can do the job in the NHL.

"You can't ask for a better opportunity. I'm going to learn a lot in this next couple weeks," the 24-year-old told the team's website. "We're all partners in this together. We've got to be the backbone of this team and give these guys a chance to win every night."

Irving is 1-1-1 in three starts since Kiprusoff was injured in Detroit last week, and has a 2.62 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.

Who's hot: Lehtonen has won his last five starts with a 1.77 goals against average and .940 save percentage. … Jiri Hudler had Calgary's goal on Monday and has three points in his last three games.

Injury report: Dallas is missing veteran forward Ray Whitney, who's sidelined with a broken foot. … In addition to Kiprusoff, who's expected to miss at least two more weeks with a lower-body injury, Calgary is missing center Michael Cammalleri (hip) and Mikael Backlund (knee) as well as rookie forward Sven Baertschi (hip).

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