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Stars fall to Flames, 3-1

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Calgary Flames continue to roll while the Dallas Stars remain on a bit of a roller coaster ride. The Flames won their seventh straight game, defeating the Stars, 3-1, at American Airlines Center Thursday night.

The Stars, who were looking for a better start and a more consistent effort Thursday night, accomplished one of their goals, getting off to a strong start and grabbing a 1-0 lead on a Johnny Oduya shorthanded goal. But the Stars got sloppy in the final five minutes of the first period, and that allowed the Flames to score two goals to take a lead they would never relinquish.

"The first 15 minutes we played pretty well,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “That little bit of roller coaster ride we're on, 15 minutes wasn't good enough."

“I think we got off to a good start. We talked about that. There was a little bit of a lapse in the first, and they capitalized. We just couldn’t get the puck in the net,” said Stars center Jason Spezza.

The Stars made a big push in the third period but couldn’t crack Flames goaltender Karri Ramo, who stopped 35 of 36 shots. The Stars, who lost for the fourth time in the past eight games (4-2-2), are now 23-7-2 on the season. Thursday’s loss was just their fourth in 16 home games (12-4-0).

“Everybody's playing well this time of year, everybody's up for us right now,” said Spezza. “I think you have to give them credit. They played well, but if we put the puck in the net a little better, we'd have a good chance to win that game.”

The Flames improved to 7-0-0 since the beginning of December, a streak that began with a 4-3 shootout win over Dallas.

“I felt that we played a more complete game than our win at home against the Stars, but that’s the beauty of this game. Sometimes you play a full 60 minutes, sometimes you play 40, you have enough to win,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley. “We’re dealing with human beings, and you never can always control the outcome or the intensity of everyone, but tonight we went to work, and our forechecking game was good. I thought that defensively we were real strong, and when we had some breakdowns, Kari was there with big saves.”

The Stars took a 1-0 lead at 12:44 of the first with a shorthanded goal. Vernon Fiddler put a shot on net off the rush, and Oduya scored off the rebound.

But Calgary bounced back with two goals to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Sean Monahan scored off an odd-man rush at the 15:29 mark to tie the game 1-1. The Flames put some pressure on in the final minute of the first, and Dougie Hamilton scored from the point with 27.3 seconds left to put the Flames up by one goal.

Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who made 24 saves in the game, came up big on a Calgary power play in the second, stopping eight shots to keep it a 2-1 game. But Calgary extended their lead to 3-1 with a goal late in the period when Mason Raymond beat a screened Lehtonen with a shot from the slot off the rush at the 17:30 mark.

The Stars outshot the Flames 17-6 in the third period, but couldn’t crack Ramo, who came up with several sharp saves, including a great glove stop on Alex Goligoski, a sharp save on a Patrick Eaves backhand shot and a big stop on a Jamie Benn redirection off the rush with Dallas on the power play. Big saves that helped preserve the Flames’ 3-1 win.

“We didn’t play good enough to win,” Oduya said. “The effort in this game tonight was better than the one before. With that said, there are certain things we need to do to get a win in a game. We are not happy with that; we have to move forward, and we have another big game coming up. We will look at some things tomorrow and move forward.”

The Stars were 0-3 on the power play Thursday and are 5-45 (11.1 percent) over their past 14 games. The Stars have failed to score on the power play in 11 of those 14 games.

“It's struggling. We're a little bit locked up,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We're not making quick enough decisions, and almost every decision we do make is the wrong one right now. The execution part of it, we got in a couple of times and then we didn't make the right play. We'll come out of it. It's going to take some hard work.”

Stars coach Lindy Ruff juggled his lines to start the second period with the Stars behind 2-1. The moves included Tyler Seguin moving back to center with Jamie Benn and Patrick Sharp on his wings.

“I want Tyler in the middle of the ice. I thought it was an opportunity to throw him back there and go from there,” Ruff said.

Among the other changes were Jason Spezza centering Mattias Janmark and Patrick Eaves, Cody Eakin in the middle of Antoine Roussel and Valeri Nichushkin and Vernon Fiddler with Colton Sceviour and Ales Hemsky on his wings.

*The Stars outshot the Flames 36-27 and had an 83-50 advantage in attempted shots.

*Ales Hemsky led the Stars with five shots on goal.

*John Klingberg and Tyler Seguin both had eight attempted shots.

*The Flames blocked 29 shots.

*Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya has five points (three goals, two assists) in the past five games.

*The Stars won 29 of 61 faceoffs (48 percent).

*Cody Eakin won 9 of 15 faceoffs (60 percent). Tyler Seguin won 6 of 9 (67 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 18 (33 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 2 of 8 (25 percent).

*Klingberg led the Stars with 24:11 of ice time.

The Stars wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday, taking on the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens are coming off a 3-0 loss to Los Angeles in Montreal Thursday, their sixth loss in the past seven games (1-6-0).

Jamie BennCody EakinTyler Seguin

Valeri NichushkinJason SpezzaPatrick Sharp

Antoine RousselMattias JanmarkAles Hemsky

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Patrik NemethJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak, Travis Moen

Injured: None

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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