Kari Lehtonen was rock solid in his return to the net and Alex Chiasson and Jamie Benn spearheaded the offense as the Dallas Stars routed the Calgary Flames 5-1 at American Airlines Center Thursday night.
It was a big bounce back win for the Stars, who were coming off back-to-back losses in Los Angeles and Anaheim over the weekend.
“It was a tough weekend for us, we lost two key games. It was kind of good for us, it was a wakeup call,” said Chiasson. “We looked in the mirror this week, worked hard in practice and for most of the game tonight we competed pretty hard. It was a 60 minute effort, that was the key tonight.”
“Obviously after our road trip we wanted to come out here and be strong at home,” said Benn. “I thought our goalie played great tonight and we got a big two points.”
Lehtonen, who has missed the last five games with a lower body injury, stopped 28 of 29 shots.
“I felt a little rusty, but the guys kept it pretty simple,” said Lehtonen. “They didn’t get too many crazy chances. They were simple shots and that was good for me to get back into playing.”
Lehtonen is now 3-1-0 on the season with a 1.41 goals against average and .956 save percentage.
“He’s our key player,” Chiasson said of Lehtonen. “You look at every team that is successful in this league and it starts with the goalie. I think he played awesome tonight”
Chiasson scored two goals and assisted on one other. Benn scored two goals. Brenden Dillon also scored for the Stars, who won their third straight game at home.
The Stars and Flames were in a tight battle and deadlocked at 1-1 midway through the game, but the Stars blew the contest open with three goals in a one minute span of the second period.
“I thought we started a little bit slow, but it was a real good win once we got going,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “And we sensed a little bit of blood there in the second period, I thought we took control of the game, which was good to see. Once we had control, we played a pretty efficient and smart game.”
The Stars struck first, getting a goal from Chiasson to take a 1-0 lead at the 4:04 mark of the first period. Ray Whitney sent a pass to Chiasson, who was stationed at the front of the net and slipped the puck past Flames goaltender Karri Ramo from close range.
“Great play by Whits,” Chiasson said. “I think he was the only one in the whole building who saw me.”
The Flames tied it at 4:40 of the second period when the Flames got an odd-man rush and Lee Stempniak scored from the right circle.
But the Stars scored three goals in a 1:01 span to take a 4-1 lead. Whitney set up Chiasson, who scored from the slot at the 11:11 mark. The goal was initially waved off, but a video review after play stopped showed the puck was in the net.
Just 18 seconds later, Jamie Benn tallied from the left circle off the rush and the Stars had a 3-1 lead in the game.
“When you score and then you score again that usually kills the other team’s momentum,” said Chiasson. “We scored two quick goals there and it felt like they backed off a bit.”
And then 43 seconds later, Shawn Horcoff won a faceoff back to Brenden Dillon, whose shot from the left point found its way through traffic and past Ramo to give the Stars a 4-1 lead.
“Well, those three quick goals, they definitely took lots of energy out of us and we just couldn’t recover,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley.
Benn scored his second of the night at 3:36 of the third period to make it a 5-1 game. Chiasson sent a pass behind the net to Benn, who scored on a wrap-around.
The Stars improved to 4-5-0 on the season. Calgary fell to 4-4-2.
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.