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Stars' best effort not enough in shootout loss to Flames

Dallas earned a point, but saw its two-goal advantage evaporate in the third period as Calgary rallied late to win

by Jeff Odom @jeffodom /

DALLAS -- The Stars put forth their best effort of the young season on Thursday against the Flames. It just wasn't enough to push them into the win column for the second consecutive game.

Despite goals from captain Jamie Benn and Joel L'Esperance, the Stars couldn't hold onto a two-goal lead in the third period as the Flames stormed back to force overtime and take an eventual 3-2 shootout win at American Airlines Center.

"I think we played good today," said Stars defenseman John Klingberg, who picked up his first point with an assist. "Obviously I think we had some really good looks. ... I think if we keep playing like this, we're gonna get results as well."


[WATCH: All Stars vs. Flames highlights]


Video: CGY@DAL: Hanley, L'Esperance combine for opening goal

Dallas had hoped for a home remedy coming in after it stumbled out of the gate, winding up on the wrong side of one-goal results against the Bruins, Blues and Red Wings before finally edging Washington in overtime on Tuesday.

Despite looking much more crisp and complete, the Stars (1-3-1) got more of the same on the scoreboard, though they did earn a needed point.

"We're not happy with the result, obviously, but we do think it was our best game of the year against a really good team," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. "But again, we're finding ways to let other teams come back in. That second goal, it can't happen to us.


[PHOTOS: Best shots from Stars-Flames at American Airlines Center]


"We've got to manage the game better."

After a back-and-forth battle between Ben Bishop and Calgary's David Rittich kept things scoreless, Dallas broke through the stalemate late in the second as L'Esperance potted a feed from defenseman Joel Hanley, making his season debut, for the early advantage.

Nine seconds into the third, with time winding down on a power play, Benn struck again for the Stars off the opening face off, firing home a sharp feed from Roope Hintz for his first goal of the season.

Video: CGY@DAL: Benn finishes feed off from Hintz for PPG

It didn't last.

Calgary rallied with a pair of goals from Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to tie it and force overtime. Then in the shootout, Rittich stood tall and Johnny Gaudreau beat Bishop in the third round to give Calgary (2-1-1) its first win over the Stars in seven tries.

"There's positives out of this game, but again, we've gotta learn how to manage games," Montgomery said. "That's a game ... that you should close that game out, and that's where we have to get better."


Moments that mattered

Video: "We do think it was our best game of the year"

Rittich denies Radulov: The Stars had a golden opportunity to finish things off with 20.9 seconds left in overtime when Alexander Radulov was awarded a penalty shot after being tripped up on a breakaway in front of the net by Mike Giordano. But Radulov couldn't convert and was stoned on the attempt by Rittich, who then went on to again turn aside the Stars winger and Benn in the shootout en route to the victory.

Tweet from @Sportsnet960: Rittich stops Radulov on the penalty shot and is pumped about it! #Flames #CGYvsDAL #GoStars

Can't hold 'em back: Just two minutes, 40 seconds after Benn gave Dallas its two-goal cushion, Lindholm quickly extinguished any momentum the Stars had gained with a power-play marker of his own. That then opened the door for Hanafin, who found the back of the net minutes later to tie the game at two apiece.


Three stars of the game

Video: Joel focuses on the simple things

Johnny Gaudreau, Flames: The star winger was whistled for a pair of minor penalties in the second -- holding and high-sticking -- but he put the finishing touches on Calgary's win in the shootout with a dazzling move to get the winning tally past Bishop.

Tweet from @BradyTrett: Johnny Gaudreau undresses Ben Bishop for the shootout winner

David Rittich, Flames: Calgary's netminder allowed two goals, but he was solid in stopping 15 of 16 shots in the second and holding off a late scramble by the Stars to force overtime. For the night, Rittich made a game-high 34 saves.

Joel L'Esperance, Stars: The young winger scored just his third career NHL goal and was noticeable throughout on the third line with Justin Dowling and Radek Faksa.


Fast facts

Video: "We're going to keep building on this"

  • The Stars were 0-for-13 on the man-advantage to open the season -- including 0-for-3 in the game -- before Benn got his shot past Rittich in the third.

  • Dallas didn't have a game go to a shootout until the 72nd game last season.

  • Against the Flames, the Stars have earned points in nine of the last 11 overall contests (8-2-1).

  • Montgomery said veteran winger Corey Perry, out since the start of training camp with a fractured foot, is expected to make his Stars debut sometime during the team's upcoming road trip next week.


He said it

"I believe if you've scored a goal in the game, you feel good about yourself. You're seeing the net, you're feeling the rhythm. That's why I went with Jamie, and next would have been Roope and then Pav because (Joe) Pavelski was having, I thought, his best game as a Dallas Star."

-- Montgomery on how he determines which players to use during a shootout


Up next

The Stars continue their quick two-game homestand on Saturday against the Capitals at American Airlines Center before heading on the road for four games at Buffalo, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Jeff Odom covers the Stars for Follow him on Twitter @jeffodom.

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