The late season push continues for the Dallas Stars. The Stars made it four straight wins and seven in their past eight games with a 4-3 shootout win in Calgary Wednesday night.
With the victory, the Stars pulled to within six points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with eight games remaining.
“We know where we are at. This is a game we know we needed two points. We had to get two points somehow,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “That puts pressure on the teams above us. Winnipeg (which holds the final wild-card spot) recognizes where we are now. It’s a situation where we might have to run the table, and that might not get you in.”
Ales Hemsky scored two goals, and Jamie Benn also scored in regulation. Tyler Seguin scored the lone goal of the shootout and had two assists in regulation. Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 34 shots and turned away all three Calgary attempts in the shootout.
“Kari was good,” Ruff said. “Both goaltenders were [good].”
The Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and the Flames battled back to tie. Hemsky scored with 15 seconds left in the second period to put the Stars ahead 3-2, but the Flames scored in the third to tie it again.
“That’s when you’ve got to push back and respond even harder,” said Benn. “We knew this was going to be a tough one. They’re having a heck of a year. They are a good, young team.”
With the point they picked up in the game, the Flames remained in third place in the Pacific Division. They are one point ahead of Los Angeles, which has one game in hand.
“I thought we battled hard, but we basically gave them their three goals,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “We battled back and looking at the situation it is a huge point, but at this time we are shooting for two.”
The game got off to a slow start with six stoppages for icing in the first 3:03 of the game. But the pace picked up and the Stars had a 13-6 advantage and three power play chances including a four-minute opportunity, but couldn’t take advantage in what turned out to be a scoreless first period.
There was a lot of scoring in the second period. The Stars opened the scoring 47 seconds into the second when Hemsky scored from the slot off the rush to put the Stars up 1-0.
The Stars penalty kill came up big a few minutes later, killing off back-to-back Calgary power plays including a 57-second five-on-three, to keep it a 1-0 game.
The Stars cashed in on their fourth power play to extend the lead 2-0. Jason Spezza slipped by a Calgary defender and then sent a cross-ice pass to Benn, who scored from close range at the 10:47 mark.
But the Flames bounced back to tie. Johnny Gaudreau scored from close range to cut the lead to 2-1 at the 12:44 mark. After a Dallas turnover in their own end, Deryk Engelland scored off a shot from the point to make it a 2-2 game at the 13:49 mark.
The Stars regained the lead in the final minute of the period with the two sides playing four-on-four. Shawn Horcoff stole the puck in the Dallas end, headed the other way and set up Hemsky, who scored from about 15 feet out to put the Stars up 3-2 with 15 seconds left in the period.
“That was a real good play by Horcoff,” Ruff said. “They would have gone into the room feeling really good about their push back and then all of a sudden we took a little bit of momentum away from them.”
Calgary scored the only goal of the third when Engelland tallied off a shot from the point at the 11:19 mark to tie the game 3-3. The Stars thought they scored at the 16:10 mark but the goal was waved off because Hemsky was ruled to have made incidental contact with Ramo. The Stars had a power play in the final minutes after Joe Colborne boarded Hemsky, but the Stars couldn’t take advantage and the game went to extra playing time.
In the shootout, Seguin beat Ramo with a shootout. Lehtonen turned away Colborne, Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
*The Stars improved to 9-2-0 in their past 11 games.
*Ales Hemsky scored two goals in a game for the first time as a Dallas Star.
*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen has won his last nine decisions on the road.
*The Flames outshot the Stars 34-30.
*Jamie Benn led the Stars with seven shots on goal and 13 attempted shots.
*The Stars were 1-7 on the power play and 4-4 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 35 of 70 faceoffs (50 percent).
*Cody Eakin won 6 of 8 (75 percent). Jason Spezza won 8 of 15 (53 percent). Tyler Seguin won 8 of 16 (50 percent). Jamie Benn won 6 of 14 (43 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 25:25 of ice time.
*Antoine Roussel and Ales Hemsky both the left the game briefly but returned. Roussel was hit in the back of the head by a puck. Hemsky was from behind and slammed into the boards by Joe Colborne, who was given a minor for boarding.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Cody Eakin – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Curtis McKenzie – Shawn Horcoff – Brett Ritchie
Jyrki Jokipakka – Alex Goligoski
Patrik Nemeth – John Klingberg
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Scratched: Ryan Garbutt, Travis Moen
Injured: Trevor Daley (lower body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)
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.