When you play a team in as desperate a situation as the Calgary Flames, there will be no holds barred and nothing left on the table. The Flames were fully aware of their situation, and so were the Stars, so the first period was an up-tempo affair with emotions running high. Were it not for the always stellar play of Kari Lehtonen, the Flames may have taken a lead into the intermission thanks to two bad Stars penalties. Adding to the emotion of the game was a tilt between Steve Ott and Curtis Glencross and a couple unsportsmanlike minors handed out to Sheldon Souray and Tim Jackman. Despite all the bickering, neither team could put a puck in the net, taking a 0-0 score into the second period. Both tensions and chances continued to build throughout the period, but it was the Stars who cracked first. Curtis Glencross took a pass right in front of the net and forced the puck past Lehtonen, giving the Flames a 1-0 lead. The Flames couldn’t garner much momentum after the goal, but had an opportunity after another Stars penalty. Loui Eriksson would have none of it and scored one of the prettiest goals of the year on the penalty kill to tie the game 1-1. Less than four minutes later, the Stars took their momentum and converted it into a power play goal from none other than Michael Ryder. The Stars took the 2-1 lead into the final period where Calgary might as well have been playing for their season, and they showed it. Michael Cammalleri sent a pass between his legs to a net crashing Jarome Iginla to tie the game at 2-2 eight minutes into the period. Both teams settled down and took the game into extra time, securing a point for both teams. The Stars had numerous scoring chances in the OT period, but could not convert despite a power play and the game would have to be decided in the shoot out. Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson both scored, and Kari stopped both shots he faced, giving the Stars a huge 3-2 win.
What It Means:
The good times keep rolling. The Stars improve to seven straight games where they’ve secured points, putting together a ridiculous 6-0-1 run that has put them in seventh place and within striking position of the Pacific Division lead. Again, it wasn’t a very pretty game, but the Stars did what needed to be done, and Kari Lehtonen continues to put together the best hockey of his career. There’s really not enough to be said about this Stars team. This run has been something special, with the team surviving intact after the trade deadline. They’ve shown Joe Nieuwendyk that the team he has put together is good enough to make the playoffs. All eyes are set on tomorrow, where the Stars could jump to third place in the conference. Think about that, who could have seen that coming just a month ago? It’s a perfect storm of circumstances, and now Stars fans can only hope the winds keep blowing in the Stars favor. Game notes:
- Michael Ryder. 28 goals. Enough said.
- The Stars move into 7th place, jumping over the San Jose Sharks. They can leapfrog all the way to third with a Phoenix loss tomorrow night.
- Loui Eriksson stretches his team leading point total to 59 with a goal and an assist tonight.
- Kari Lehtonen earned his first assist of the season on Loui Eriksson’s short handed goal.
The Stars will finish up their Western Canada road swing with another match up against the Vancouver Canucks, who the Stars defeated in impressive manner back on February 26th. The Stars might not be chasing the Canucks in the playoff race, but two points is two points and depending on the result of the Phoenix/Pittsburgh game tomorrow, the Stars could take Pacific Division lead. The puck drop is scheduled for 9:00pm, so be ready to stay up late!
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