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Stars bounce back at home to beat Flames

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Two nights after their worst performance ever in Dallas, the Stars got back on track.

Loui Eriksson scored twice as the Stars bounced back from Saturday's 8-1 loss to Chicago by beating the Calgary Flames 4-3 on Monday night.

"It was a big win," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I thought we clawed our way a little bit to the surface here, we still got a few feet to go."

Chicago pummeled the Stars in front of a sellout crowd at American Airlines Center in the worst home loss since the franchise relocated from Minnesota in 1993. But there were no after-effects on Monday -- the Stars scored three times in the first period against Calgary backup goaltender Joey MacDonald and held off the Flames. Kari Lehtonen stopped 16 shots for his 10th victory of the season.

"It was huge," Lehtonen said of the win. "After such a bad game, it was nice to play a great game and these guys made it real easy for me. I felt like it shouldn't even be close. They kind of sneaked back in and made it more interesting than it should have been."

Dallas came out playing inspired hockey, taking the first six shots on goal before Dennis Wideman got a long slapper that Lehtonen had to stop with his glove.

Just 20 seconds later, Wideman hooked Dallas' Antoine Roussel, who has just finished serving a penalty for tripping, as he was driving to the Calgary net, resulting in a penalty shot. Roussel skated in on MacDonald but flipped a backhand just wide of the right post to keep the game scoreless.

However, the Stars began a three-goal blitz in just over five minutes when Erik Cole's wrister from just above the right circle deflected off the left skate of Calgary defenseman Derek Smith and went past MacDonald at 13:07.

Eric Nystrom made it 2-0 at 15:49 with his third goal of the season. The fourth-line forward beat MacDonald with a short wrister from the left side for his first goal since Feb. 13, a span of 10 games. That goal also came against the Flames.

"We're right in the thick of things," Nystrom said. "We've got to learn from this. It comes down to us playing a certain way and discovering an identity and up to this point, we really haven't done that. I think there were some really good things tonight that shows when we play a certain way, we can be successful but when we stray from it, we're not very good."

After Cody Eakin and Flames captain Jarome Iginla dropped the gloves with 3:28 remaining before intermission, Dallas made it 3-0 when Eriksson flipped a 10-foot wrister into the top of the net at 18:11 for his eighth of the season. Ray Whitney picked up the primary assist after skating from behind the Flames goal before spotting Eriksson, who was streaking toward the net.

Dallas outshot Calgary 12-5 in the opening 20 minutes.

"I think everyone probably knew it was coming. We sat back and watched. We didn't take initiative and play the way we had to play off the beginning of the game. It's disappointing," Calgary forward Curtis Glencross said.

MacDonald made a huge glove save on Brenden Morrow's wrister midway through the second period, giving his team a chance to get back in the game -- and the Flames did just that.

Calgary made it 3-1 at 11:30 when Jiri Hudler deflected a long-range blast from T.J. Brodie behind Lehtonen for a power-play goal. The Flames had gone on the power play after Eakin earned roughing and interference penalties after a hard hit on Calgary's Matt Stajan. Wideman also earned a roughing call for his role in the altercation after coming to Stajan's defense.

"That's one of the dirtiest hits that I've seen. Those hits can end careers," Flames coach Bob Hartley said of Eakin's hit.

Dallas defenseman Jordie Benn was whistled for hooking Calgary's Lee Stempniak at 13:05, and again the Flames capitalized. Jay Bouwmeester made it 3-2 with a backhander from the slot that glanced off the crossbar and landed in the back of the net.

Eriksson flipped home his second of the night at 12:06 of the third period to restore Dallas' two-goal lead. After Jamie Benn's pass caromed off the skate of Calgary's Matt Giordano, Eriksson collected the deflection and quickly finished. That goal stood up as the winner when Alex Tanguay got behind the defense and put a backhander past Lehtonen with 4:46 remaining.

The Flames pulled MacDonald with 1:27 remaining but were unable to get the equalizer.

I thought our beginning was good, we didn't have the second we wanted and we stabilized a little bit in the third," Gulutzan said.

With the loss, Calgary is now 0-6-1 in its last seven road games; the Flames' last win away from home was on Feb. 17 at Dallas.

"It seems like on the road we start slow and it takes time to get going," MacDonald said. "You get down two or three and it's tough to battle back. We did a great job battling back, but it's just too hard on everybody."

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