Mistakes proved costly as the Dallas Stars ended their four-game road trip with a 3-1 loss at Calgary Friday night.
The Stars, who were playing their fourth road game in the past six nights, were sloppy at times and the Flames, who are the league's hottest team, took advantage.
"They are a good team, and they play well together," Stars defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "They wait for other teams to make mistakes and we made enough to allow them to get the goals."
The Flames capitalized on a Dallas turnover late in the first period to take a 1-0 lead, and then extended their lead to 3-0 by midway through the game.
"Give Calgary credit. They were playing smart, and they didn't make the big mistake," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "We caved in, made the big mistake and gave them the early goal."
The Stars lost for the fourth time in their past five games and ended up with a 1-3-0 record on their four-game road trip. They scored one goal in all three of the losses on the trip.
Brett Ritchie scored the lone Dallas goal in Friday's game, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 21 of 24 shots for the Stars who fell to 28-33-10 on the season.
Defenseman Mark Giordano recorded three points (one goal, two assists) and Brian Elliott stopped 24 of 25 shots for the Flames, who won for the 11th time in their past 12 games and improved to 16-3-1 over their past 20 games. Calgary (40-27-4) moved into third place in the Pacific Division.
"Elliott was really good in net, and it was a good effort for 60 minutes," said Flames center Mikael Backlund. "It wasn't our best game, but it was good enough."
The Flames scored the only goal of the first period. After Stars center Jason Spezza turned over the puck in the neutral zone, the Flames entered the Dallas zone, and Backlund set up Michael Frolik, who scored from the slot at the 16:07 mark.
"We played the right type of period until we turned the puck over," said Ruff. "Both teams were playing a smart game and as soon as we turned that one over we created life for them."
The Flames pushed their lead to 3-0 in the second period. A little more than a minute after Stars center Cody Eakin rang a shot off the post, Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk redirected a Giordano pass into the net to make it a 2-0 game at the 5:20 mark.
Calgary made it a 3-0 game after a heads-up play by Tkachuk, who avoided a whistle in the Dallas zone when he didn't play the puck which had been touched by a Calgary high stick. Instead, he waited for the Stars to play the puck, and when they did, he knocked it to Giordano, whose shot from the left point deflected off Hamhuis and into the net at the 8:32 mark.
"[Tkachuk] makes great plays around the blue line and at the net and that's why he is able to play in this league at such a young age (19-years-old)," said Giordano.
Lehtonen kept the Stars within three goals, stopping Johnny Gaudreau on a breakaway later in the second and then making several good stops in the third. The Stars finally got a puck past Elliot with 6:41 left in the game. After Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie coughed up the puck in front of the Calgary net, Ritchie scored off a wrist shot to pull the Stars to within 3-1. Dallas got a late power play and pulled Lehtonen for an extra attacker, but couldn't get any closer.
Notes: Benn sits out with eye injury
*Stars captain Jamie Benn did not play due to an eye injury suffered in Thursday's game at Vancouver. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Benn is expected to miss just the one game.
"It doesn't look like it will be any longer [than just tonight]," Ruff said. "He got scratched and went to see the doctor. He got a glove in the eye. Right now, that looks like all it is."
Benn left Thursday's game late in the second period after taking a hard hit from Vancouver's Nikita Tryamkin and then dropping the gloves with the big Canucks defenseman.
The Stars expect Benn to be ready to play in Monday's game against San Jose.
*The Stars are 3-9-0 in their past 12 road games.
*The Stars outshot the Flames 25-24 and had a 57-46 advantage in shot attempts.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with four shots on goal and eight shot attempts.
*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play. The Stars did not take a penalty in the game and were not shorthanded in a game for the first time this season.
*The Stars won 31 of 51 faceoffs (61 percent). Radek Faksa won 8 of 11 faceoffs (73 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 25:17 of ice time.
*Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin both were a minus-three in the game.
The Stars return home to take on the San Jose Shark Mondays. This will be the second of three meetings this season between the Stars and Sharks who play again Friday in Dallas.
Patrick Sharp - Jason Spezza - Tyler Seguin
Remi Elie - Cody Eakin - Ales Hemsky
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Jiri Hudler
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Patrik Nemeth - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak
Injured: Jamie Benn (eye), Antoine Roussel (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.