|The Stars Get a Taste of Playoff Intensity in Recent Close Games|
|March 21, 2011 by Sean Hartnett, JL15.com contributor|
After coming off of a dramatic overtime victory against the Los Angeles Kings, the Dallas Stars were in for another thriller when they faced the Calgary Flames on March 9th. The return of Brad Richards to the Stars' lineup added even more spice to an already intriguing match-up.
Calgary was first on the scoreboard after Rene Bourque's wrist shot beat Dallas net-minder Kari Lehtonen. Tom Kostopoulous soon after buried a rebound to double the Flames' lead before Anton Babchuk blasted a shot past Lehtonen to make it three unanswered goals for Calgary. In a matter of three minutes, the Flames jumped out to a 3-0 stranglehold.
This didn't sway the Stars as they have proved their come from behind ability throughout the season. Before the end of the first period, the Stars found themselves on the power-play. With only a short time remaining on the man-advantage, Steve Ott setup Jamie Benn for his eighteenth goal of the season. Ott collected his sixteenth assist while Alex Goligoski's secondary assist was his twenty-eighth of the year.
Getty ImagesLangenbrunner and the Stars battled back from a 3-0 deficit against the Flames, but lost in the shootout.
Tomas Vincour picked an opportune time to open his NHL goal-scoring account as he tied the game early in the third period. Toby Petersen and Woywitka gained their fourth and eighth respective assists of the season. The two Finnish net-minders, Lehtonen and Kiprusoff each did not surrender any further goals as the game went into overtime and had to be decided in a shootout.
Benn was first in the shootout but Kiprusoff was up to the task. Alex Tanguay stepped up next and scored. Richards couldn't even the shootout as Bourque was denied by Lehtonen to keep the Stars alive. Riberio made a nifty move and eluded Kiprusoff but Curtis Glencross powered a shot past Lehtonen to secure the 4-3 shootout win for the Flames.
"It's a positive point, given that we came back from a three-goal deficit, it's not often that you do that," head coach Marc Crawford said postgame. "We had a glorious opportunity to win it in overtime, and lost in a shootout, so you can't be disappointed by it. I'm sure we would've liked to have two points, but it was a good, hard comeback by our guys, they dug deep as they've done all year, and at this point, it's about getting all the points you can get, and tonight we managed to find a way to get one."
Getty ImagesBenn and Skrastins celebrate after Benn's sixth straight game with a goal.
Dallas continued to chip away at the Wild during the second period as they logged thirteen shots on net. The floodgates opened at the end of the period neared as Trevor Daley found his seventh goal of this campaign. Langenbrunner made it a two-point night as gained his nineteenth assist of the season as Ribeiro took his total to forty-four. Tom Wandell was next to score as he reached his sixth goal as Loui Eriksson collected his thirty-ninth assist. Richards took his assist total to forty and recorded his first point since his return from injury. Ribeiro took advantage of a Minnesota turnover to score his fifteenth goal to increase the Stars' lead to 4-0 as they pilled on the Wild.
The Stars' defense contained Minnesota's attack during the third period as the Wild registered only three shots on goal. Lehtonen saved all fourteen shots he faced as he earned his first shutout as a Dallas Star.
Crawford commented on his team's victory. "We had a great end to the second period and I give our guys a lot of credit because I think they smelled the blood in the water, so to speak, and they really did have a killer instinct at the end of that second period," he said. "I thought we were decent through most of the game, but you have to have those moments where you really do grab the game by the throat and our guys did that tonight."
The Los Angeles Kings came to town last Sunday and fans expected a tight contest as the two Pacific division rivals produced close encounters in their previous two meetings. Drew Doughty gave the Kings an early lead as he scored a power-play goal. Los Angeles increased their lead in the second period to 2-0 after Dustin Penner shoved in a one-timer in front on net. A long-distance pass from Eriksson sprung Richards for a breakaway chance as he beat Jonathan Quick to cut the Kings' lead in half. It was Richards' twenty-fifth goal Eriksson collected his fortieth assist.
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