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Stars seek rare road win at Calgary

by Brian Hunter

STARS (26-21-12) at FLAMES (29-22-9)

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

Season series: It's the fourth and final meeting of the regular season. Dallas has taken two of the first three, including a 5-2 win at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Oct. 9. The teams then split a pair of games at American Airlines Center, with the Flames winning 3-2 on Nov. 4 on a Jarome Iginla power-play goal 1:25 into overtime and the Stars prevailing 4-3 on Jan. 27 as Loui Eriksson scored in the shootout.

Big story: The pre-Olympic push continues for both clubs. This will be the second of three straight road games to close out the abbreviated February schedule for Dallas, a team which has won just one of its last 14 away from home. Calgary embarks on a four-game homestand sandwiched around the two-week break.

Team Scope:

Stars: After ending Phoenix's six-game winning streak Saturday behind a shutout performance by Marty Turco, Dallas played a spirited game Tuesday in Chicago. The Stars wasted a pair of one-goal leads only to see the Central Division-leading Blackhawks go ahead 3-2 in the third period, but they salvaged a point when Loui Eriksson scored with 3:50 remaining. They eventually lost 4-3 in a five-round shootout.

"We did good things tonight, but it's a tough when you lose in a shootout. It's tough but I think we played well tonight," said forward James Neal, who finished with a goal and a pair of assists. "It's going to be a tough couple more games here before the break but we'll put this one behind us and take the good things we did with us into Calgary."

Flames: Calgary has split six games since snapping a nine-game losing streak. The Flames won three of four immediately following the January skid, but have since dropped a pair of one-goal decisions, 2-1 in overtime at Tampa Bay and 3-2 on Tuesday in Ottawa. Like their opponent Thursday, the Flames also let a couple of leads slip away in their latest defeat.

"I'm not happy at all tonight," coach Brent Sutter said. "That game was there for us to get some points here tonight and we just didn't play a good enough game after the first 28 minutes to expect to win."

Who's hot: Neal has 3 goals and 3 assists in the last four games for Dallas. Brad Richards has 2 goals and 4 assists during a four-game points streak. Eriksson has 2 goals and 3 assists during a four-game points streak. Jamie Benn has 3 goals and an assist in his last four games. ... Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano has 2 goals in his last three games and a career-high 10 for the season.

Injury report:
On the plus side, forward Mike Ribeiro returned to the Stars' lineup Tuesday and scored a goal. However, the team has lost rugged forward Steve Ott to an emergency appendectomy and defenseman Mark Fistric to arthroscopic knee surgery. Also sidelined are forwards Tom Wandell (knee) and Brian Sutherby (shoulder). ... Forwards David Moss (shoulder), Nigel Dawes (leg), Craig Conroy (knee) and Rene Bourque (shoulder) are all out for the Flames.

Stat pack: Calgary has added six new players to its lineup over the past 10 days. Matt Stajan has 2 goals and an assist since joining the club, Niklas Hagman has a goal and a pair of assists, Ales Kotalik has a goal and 14 shots, Ian White has an assist and a plus-2 rating and Jamal Mayers has an assist and 31 penalty minutes. Christopher Higgins is still looking for his first point with the Flames, but has taken 12 shots in four games.

Puck drop: Dallas acquired goaltender Kari Lehtonen from Atlanta on Tuesday for young defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy. Lehtonen has not played in the NHL this season due to back issues and just finished an AHL conditioning assignment. The Thrashers decided they didn't want to break up the goaltending tandem of Ondrej Pavelec and Johan Hedberg, but it will be interesting to see where Lehtonen fits in with the Stars, who already have Turco and veteran backup Alex Auld.

"When healthy, he is a world-class goaltender," Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said of Lehtonen. "He is 26, and is entering the prime of his career."

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