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Thursday, December 23, 2010
Stars fall flat against Flames

By Mark Stepneski


It wasn’t the way the Dallas Stars wanted to head into the two-day Christmas break. The Stars got a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center, but they were outplayed for most of the game.

“We were disappointed with the way we played tonight,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “It wasn’t anywhere close to the type of game we’ve come to expect from ourselves. On a positive side - and I know you don’t get to see it - our guys were disappointed after the game. From an organizational standpoint that’s what we’d expect from them. We’d be disappointed if they didn’t have a huge amount of disappointment in how they played.”

Calgary’s Alex Tanguay scored with 1:21 left in regulation to tie the game and then scored the lone goal of the shootout for the Flames, who snapped a three-game losing streak and snapped a three-game winning streak for the Stars.

“It was not the effort we wanted,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “We were a minute or two from winning it, but we lost some coverage there and they capitalized. It’s pretty disappointing. We had a good run going and we would like to finish it on a high note for Christmas. It will give us something to think about and be hungry when we get back.”

The Stars were outshot in the game 33-16, including 10-2 in the second period. By the midway point of the game they had just five shots on goal. Still they were tied 1-1 at that point thanks to a power play goal by Mike Ribeiro.

“The first two periods we weren’t involved enough,” said Ribeiro who also had an assist in the game. “We didn’t play the way we wanted and we knew those guys were coming hard.”

The Flames did come hard after the Stars took a 2-1 lead 2:41 into the third period. Jamie Benn stole the puck in the Calgary zone, set up a shot by Ribeiro and Morrow scored on the rebound.

Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen held the fort for most of the rest of the third period, coming up with several superb saves to keep his team ahead by one goal. But just after the Flames pulled goalie Miikka Kiprusoff for the extra attacker, Tanguay got behind the Stars defense and beat Lehtonen with a wrist shot with just 1:21 remaining to force overtime. Tanguay then scored the only goal in the shootout, freezing Lehtonen with a fake and then scoring blocker side.

By getting to overtime the Stars now have points in 14 of their last 16 games (11-2-3) and the point they picked up Thursday’s game - coupled with a Detroit loss Thursday - moved them into a tie for the Western Conference lead with the Red Wings. That was a positive the Stars could hang their hat on as they headed off on the two day break.

“On the bright side we got a point. On the other bright side, if you said at the start of the season that we’d be tied for first place in the Western Conference going into the Christmas break we’d all be pretty happy,” said Crawford. “We should be pretty happy. “