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Stars Top Flames for Third Straight Win

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Make it two-for-two on the road trip and three straight wins overall for the Dallas Stars. Kari Lehtonen stopped 21 of 22 shots and Jamie Benn and Trevor Daley scored goals as the Stars defeated the Calgary Flames, 2-1, at the Scotiabank Saddledome Friday night.

It was another superb performance for Lehtonen, who has stopped 48 of 49 shots in the first two games of the Stars’ road trip.

“I felt good, and the guys played very well in front of me,” Lehtonen said. “The first period maybe wasn’t our best, but after that it was really solid. We didn’t give them too much.”

“He’s been great,” Daley said of Lehtonen. “He’s challenging the shots a lot more, he’s coming out to the top of his crease. He’s doing what he does. He’s a great goalie. He makes the first one, and we have just have to get rid of the second one.”

Lehtonen was particularly sharp in a scoreless first period, turning away a couple of quality Calgary chances. The Stars played a strong second, getting goals from Benn and Daley to take a 2-0 lead. The Stars then played a solid third while protecting a 2-1 lead, limiting the Flames to just five shots on goal.

“We played a good second period,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We eliminated a lot of the individual mistakes we had in the Vancouver game (Wednesday). I think we played the type of road game you can go out and win.”

The Stars’ penalty kill came up big Friday night, going 4-4 in the game and moving to 8-8 on the road trip.

“I didn’t like some of the calls that went against us. I thought we had a couple tough ones, but our penalty killing did a great job,” Ruff said. “You’ve got to battle through that. If the penalty killing doesn’t do a good job, we might be staring at a different outcome.”

The Stars, who improved to 13-13-5, pulled to within seven points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Calgary (17-15-2) lost its seventh straight game, all of them in regulation. The Flames have scored just 11 goals during the skid.

“Offensively we did a lot of good things, but it’s tough to buy a goal right now,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “Bearing down would help, but we are not as confident with the puck as we were three weeks ago.”

Lehtonen came up big in the first, making nine saves, including sharp ones on Curtis Glencross and Josh Jooris as the Stars and Flames played a scoreless opening period.

Benn got the Stars on the board early in the second. After a faceoff in Calgary zone, Benn got the puck in front of the Flames net, outwaited Calgary goaltender Jonas Hiller and backhanded the puck into the net at the 4:00 mark.

The Stars made it a 2-0 game at the 11:54 mark of the second. Just seconds after killing off a Calgary power play, Benn set up Daley on the rush and the Dallas defenseman scored from the right circle.

“I saw that they had some guys caught deep, so I got up on the play and Benny found me,” Daley said.

The Flames got on the board late in the second when a Mark Giordano shot from the left point made its way through traffic and past Lehtonen to make it a 2-1 game with 1:15 left in the period.

The Stars didn’t give the Flames much in the third, limiting one of the highest scoring third period teams in the NHL to just five shots on goal. What the Flames did get on net Lehtonen turned away, including stops on a Raphael Diaz point shot and a rebound attempt by Markus Granlund. Those saves helped preserve the Stars’ lead and send them to their fourth win in the last five games.

“It’s been nice to play a few good games in a row now,” said Lehtonen. “That gives confidence to everybody.”

Notes: McKenzie assigned to AHL

*The Stars announced after Friday’s game that left wing Curtis McKenzie was being sent back to the Texas Stars of the AHL. McKenzie has one goal in 14 games with the Stars.

*Forward Ryan Garbutt served the final game of his three-game suspension for slew-footing Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien. Garbutt is eligible to return for Sunday’s game in Edmonton.

*The Flames outshot the Stars 22-21. The Stars had the advantage in shots directed towards the net, 58-44.

*The Flames, who lead the NHL in blocked shots, had 24 blocks in Friday’s game.

*The Stars were 4-4 on the penalty kill and 0-1 on the power play.

*The Stars won 35 of 64 faceoffs (55 percent).

*Vernon Fiddler won 11 of 15 faceoffs (73 percent). Jason Spezza won 8 of 13 (62 percent). Travis Morin won 9 of 16 (56 percent). Cody Eakin won 6 of 16 (38 percent).

*Stars captain Jamie Benn registered his 300th career point with his assist on Trevor Daley’s second period goal.

*Stars forward Ales Hemsky played in his 700th NHL game.

Stars lineup

Jamie BennCody EakinTyler Seguin
Curtis McKenzieJason SpezzaErik Cole
Antoine RousselTravis MorinAles Hemsky
Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Jyrki JokipakkaTrevor Daley
Jamie OleksiakJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

Scratched: Travis Moen

Suspended: Ryan Garbutt

Injured: Jordie Benn (illness), Patrick Eaves (ankle), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)

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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