The Calgary Flames woke up this morning in 11th place, desperate for a win that would get them back into the playoff picture, but by the end of the day, they would stay right where they were. How did it happen? Jamie Benn started things quickly, scoring on a wrap around just 1:37 into the game. The Stars continued pressing and Michael Ryder added another tally at the 7:17, burying a hole for the Flames quickly. To give the Flames credit, they responded well and cut the lead in half four minutes later courtesy of Mike Cammelleri. The Stars would take a 2-1 lead into the middle frame, but the second period belonged to the Flames. Were it not for the stellar goaltending of Kari Lehtonen, the Flames would have surely tied it. The Flames were visibly frustrated and a scrum broke out at the end of the period, with fists thrown and blood drawn, the desperation was evident. The Calgary momentum carried over into the third period but the Stars defense and Kari Lehtonen held their own long enough for Jamie Benn to score his second of the game at the 16:27 mark off a gorgeous feed from Steve Ott to put the Stars up 3-1 late. Brenden Morrow added an empty net goal to sink the final dagger into the Flames, giving the Stars a 4-1 victory.
What It Means:
For the moment, the Dallas Stars have reclaimed the division lead. Their hold is tenuous because both Phoenix and Los Angeles play tonight, both are just one points behind the Stars, but even if only for a few hours, the division lead feels great. The Stars know they need these points and a convincing home effort before a long road trip is just what the team needs. They’re essentially going to repeat the Western Canada road trip from earlier this month, a road trip the Stars swept convincingly. They’ll need more of the same magic to keep them on top of the Pacific and in a playoff spot. As for Calgary, their playoff hopes are just about gone. Another loss and it’s all but over for that team. Game notes:
- Jamie Benn set a career high in goal this afternoon with his 23rd and 24th goals of the year
- Adam Pardy had himself a solid game (he seems to do that against his former team), he was +2 with one assist.
- Michael Ryder. 33 goals. Can he get to 40? He has seven more games to get seven goals.
The Stars continue the home and home series and travel to Calgary to take on the flames once again on Monday night. The Stars have owned this team thus far, and they need a win to stay in the race, but so do the Flames, who will almost certainly be eliminated if they lose once again. It’s sure to be another chippy desperate night. Tune in.