Needing wins or at least points in a tight playoff race, the Dallas Stars found a way to get neither Monday night in Calgary. Penalties and turnovers proved costly as the Stars fell 5-4 to the Flames.
The Stars, who had 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the game, gave up four goals in the second period, one off a turnover and two off Calgary power plays.
“We gave them what happened tonight. We had the game, we were in a good spot at 2-1, then we make an error and then we take penalty after penalty until they get a two goal lead. Dumb, dumb penalties,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “You’ve got to learn how to win and the way we went about it doesn’t look like we want to win. It really doesn’t. They’ve got to figure that out for themselves.”
The Stars’ penalty kill, which has been stellar as of late, gave up three power play goals on six shorthanded opportunities. Calgary scored twice on the power play late in the second to turn a 3-3 game into a 5-3 Calgary lead.
“We got into penalty trouble and their power play beat us tonight,” said Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray. “We weren’t as disciplined as we have been. We talked about that and we just got a little bit away from that. We just let them get on the power play way too much tonight.”
The loss, their fourth in the last six games, dropped the Stars to seventh place in the Western Conference standings. They are one point out of the first in the Pacific Division and the third seed in the West, but still just one point ahead of ninth place.
“It’s a tough game to lose. We definitely needed these two points,” said Stars forward Jamie Benn. “We had too many turnovers and too many costly penalties. We shoot ourselves in the foot tonight.”
Benn gave the Stars a 1-0 lead 24 seconds into the game, beating Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff with a shot from beyond the left circle off the rush. Calgary tied with an Olli Jokinen power play goal at 6:53 of the first.
Benn scored 44 seconds into the second period on a shot from the slot off the rush to put the Stars up 2-1, and after the next shift, with his team looking out of sync, Flames coach Brent Sutter called a timeout.
“Do you really want to know,” Sutter said when asked what he said during the timeout. “It was just get back to settling down and playing our game.”
Midway through the period, the Flames scored two goals in 45 seconds apart to take a 3-2 lead. The first one came at the 9:16 mark when Stars forward Mike Ribeiro’s pass into the slot in the Dallas zone went right onto the stick of Calgary’s Blake Comeau, who ripped the puck past Kari Lehtonen to tie the game.
Ribeiro scored off a rebound with 5:31 left in the second to tie the game at 3-3, but Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas was called for tripping 30 seconds later and Calgary scored just before Robidas came out of the penalty box. Mark Giordano scored off a blast form the point with 3:02 left in the period.
Philip Larsen scored on the power play for the Stars early in the third, but Dallas could never get the equalizer.
The Flames snapped a five-game winless streak and pulled to within two points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“If you look at the standings we are definitely not out of it,” said Giordano. “We got a big win tonight, and we’ll go game-by-game here.”
*The Stars lost left wing Eric Nystrom in the first period after he was cut on the leg. He is day-to-day, according to Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.
*Stars right wing Radek Dvorak missed Monday’s game due to a sore ankle.
*The Stars allowed three power play goals in a game for the second time this season. They allowed three in a 5-4 shootout win at Los Angeles on January 12.
*Stars forward Jamie Benn has eight goals in the last ten games.