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Stars handle Flames with quick three-goal burst

by Steve Hunt /

DALLAS -- After dropping both ends of a two-game road trip last weekend, the Dallas Stars wanted a bounce-back performance against the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

That's exactly what they got.

Two goals from captain Jamie Benn, a three-point game from rookie Alex Chiasson and 28 saves from a returning Kari Lehtonen resulted in a 5-1 win against the Flames at American Airlines Center.

"Obviously after a tough road trip we wanted to come out here and be strong at home and come out with a good start," Benn said. "I thought our goalie played great tonight and we got a big two points."

Dallas broke open a 1-1 game by scoring three times in a 1:01 span early in the second period to send the Flames home from a five-game road trip with a 1-4-0 record.

"When we sensed a little bit of blood there in the second, I thought we took control of the game, which was good to see," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "And then once we had control, we played a pretty efficient and smart game."

Chiasson, who had the winning goal in a 4-3 shootout victory against the San Jose Sharks last Thursday, scored once in each of the first two periods, giving him 11 goals in his first 14 NHL games.

"It was a great play by [Ray Whitney] on the first one," said Chiasson, who also had an assist on Benn's third-period goal. "I think he was the only one in the building who saw me. The second one was a great pass right on my stick."

Lehtonen was making his first start after missing five games with a lower-body injury. Dallas was 1-4-0 without Lehtonen, who picked up an assist on Benn's second-period goal.

"They were simple shots," Lehtonen said of his 28 saves. "It was good for me to get back playing in a game like that. It was good that we got those goals. That made it easier to relax."

Benn said getting Lehtonen back gave the Stars a lift,

"Kari is a big part of this team and he definitely made some great saves tonight. It didn't look like he missed a beat out there," Benn said.

Chiasson's first goal came 4:04 into the game when he tapped in his rebound. After Whitney, who had two assists, sent the puck toward the Calgary net, Flames goaltender Karri Ramo stopped Chiasson's wrister. But the rookie collected the rebound, skated around an outstretched Ramo and slipped the puck inside the far post.

Chiasson's second of the night wasn't quite so cut and dried. At 11:11 of the middle period, he fired a wrist shot off Ramo's shoulder and into the net, but the goal had to be confirmed by video review.

"I didn't really see it but when Kari [Lehtonen] stopped and froze the puck where he did, which is usually a penalty, [I thought] Kari must have known it was a goal," Ruff said. "So that was my feeling. He must know it's a goal otherwise he's risking a minor."

That made it 2-1, and 18 seconds later, Benn connected for his second of the season with a wrist shot that sailed over Ramo's right shoulder from the left circle to make it 3-1.

The Stars capped their outburst at 12:12 when Shawn Horcoff won a faceoff back to Brenden Dillon, whose shot from near the blue line deflected off Ramo's glove and into the net.

"Those three quick goals, they definitely took lots of energy out of us and we just couldn't recover," Flames coach Bob Hartley said.

Chiasson agreed that sequence pretty much broke the Flames' will.

"It makes a big difference when you score, and then you score again," he said. "That usually kills the other team's momentum. I thought that changed the game right there."

Benn added his second of the night by beating Ramo with a backhander at 3:36 of the third period. The goal, also accompanied by a short review, was Dallas' second third-period goal of the season.

Calgary got its goal at 4:30 of the second period when Lee Stempniak beat Lehtonen to the short side with a wrist shot from the middle of the right circle.

Chiasson had a chance at his first NHL hat trick with 3:39 left, but Ramo stopped his one-timer during a 5-on-3 power play.

Ramo stopped 29 shots for Calgary, which returns home to play the Washington Capitals on Saturday. Dallas plays Saturday against Winnipeg.

"We've got to find a way to get points," Flames wing TJ Galiardi said. "I think we just had poor starts every game on the trip whereas at home and before that earlier in the year we were jumping all over teams right away. So we've got to find a way to get back to that."

Dallas defenseman Kevin Connauton saw 16:05 of ice time and finished with four blocked shots in his NHL debut.

"I thought he did OK his first game," Ruff said. "Maybe a little nervous in the first period, but I thought he settled in. That pair [he and Sergei Gonchar] was pretty efficient after that."

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