The Dallas Stars seemed to be on the way to their fourth straight win and an important two points against the Calgary Flames Friday night at American Airlines Center, but things went sideways in the third period as the Stars blew a 3-1 lead and ended up falling 4-3 in a shootout to the Flames.
“The bottom line is we just can’t let things like that happen,” said Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon. ”In this playoff hunt we are in, every point is crucial and we know that is one that got away from us. Two goal lead going into the third period in your own rink, we just can’t let that happen.”
The Flames scored two goals, including one on the power play, in a 2:39 span of the third period to tie the game and then picked up the extra outscoring the Stars 2-1 in the shootout.
“We stopped playing,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “This time of the year, with these points being so valuable, you can’t give up a 3-1 lead in the third period. We were lucky to get one point tonight.”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Stars, who did get a point and now have points in 14 of their last 17 games (11-3-3). By picking up a point in the game the Stars moved two points ahead of Phoenix in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Stars have played one fewer game than the Coyotes.
The Flames, who are out of the playoff race, won for the fourth time in six games and improved to 11-6-0 over their last 17 games.
“Great third period, great comeback,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley. “We had some good parts also in the first and second, but we made some mistakes on our goals and they made us pay for it. They’re a dangerous team, but we never quit and that’s what (makes) this group so special. They keep going and they don’t care what the situation or the score may be. We kept putting pucks and we made some great plays. We scored some very nice goals.”
There was no scoring in the first period. The Stars had the first seven shots in the period, but the Flames outshot Dallas 10-2 the rest of the way for a 10-9 advantage heading into the first intermission.
“Too much of our play was individual play. We weren’t moving the puck quick enough when we came up ice, it was individual effort after individual effort. You can praise them for the effort, but it is hard to get it done alone,” said Ruff. “There was a little bit of inconsistent play when it came to positioning through the neutral zone that allowed them to come through. You have to give them credit, they’re playing hard. The way the schedule is, you are going to see some inconsistent play on different nights. Tonight I thought our defense struggled.”
The Stars scored on their first shot of the second when Antoine Roussel beat Flames goaltender Joey MacDonald off the rush just 13 seconds into the period to put the Stars up 1-0.
The Flames answered to tie at the 6:20 mark of the second when Mike Cammalleri scored from the left circle to make it a 1-1 game.
The Flames got eight of the next ten shots on goal, but the Stars snapped the tie with 5:44 left in the second when Jamie Benn finished off a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play, tipping the puck past MacDonald to put the Stars up 2-1.
A little more than two minutes later the Stars extended the lead to 3-1. Dillon put a shot on net from the point that Erik Cole redirected past MacDonald with 3:31 left in the period.
MacDonald came up big early in the third to keep the Flames within two goals, stopping Tyler Seguin on a breakaway 1:39 into the period and then a minute later denying a close range bid by Travis Morin.
“They had some chances where they could have kind of put the game away and I thought [MacDonald] made some really big saves,” said Cammalleri.
The Stars held the Flames in check, limiting them to just one shot on goal through the first half of the period. But the Flames went on the game’s only power play for either team with 8:15 left when Stars defenseman Kevin Connauton was penalized for delay of game. And Calgary cashed in to make it a 3-2 game when Paul Byron scored from close range with 7:09 remaining in the period.
“That turned out to be a costly point of the game,” said Ruff.
The Flames tied less than three minutes later when T.J. Brodie put a shot on net from the point and Cammalleri put it past Stars goaltender Tim Thomas to tie the game 3-3 with 4:30 remaining.
“I was just kind of engaged in a battle with [Trevor] Daley trying to get to the net thinking a point shot was coming and to be honest, it didn’t quite get to the net and by the time the shot came, it hit me and I was able to put it in,” said Cammalleri.
Both teams got one shot on goal in the overtime and then in the shootout, Jordie Benn scored the lone goal for Dallas and Sean Monahan and Corban Knight tallied for the Flames.
“Credit to them [the Flames], they played a good hockey game as well,” said Dillon. “But we’ve been clicking as of late, we’ve playing well. I think we really did let a point get away tonight.”
This story was not subject to the 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.