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Friday, December 24, 2010
Stars-Flames thoughts

By Mark Stepneski

Some thoughts after the Dallas Stars lost 3-2 to the Calgary Flames in a shootout Thursday night.

*I guess the Stars were due for a clunker. This was a clunker. Still, thanks to some great netminding by Kari Lehtonen, a power play goal and a nice play by the second line, they were less than two minutes away from a regulation win. Even though they didn’t play well, they were in position to win and in the end still got a point out of it.

*The point lifted them into a tie for first in the Western Conference with Detroit, which lost in regulation to St. Louis. Being in that spot as the league breaks for Christmas is impressive.

*Full marks to the Flames. They were a desperate team and played a heck of a game. They were a tough nut to crack the first two periods and limiting the Stars to just six shots on goal through 40 minutes was impressive. Calgary deserved the two points in this game.

*The Stars have been winning a lot of these tight games lately by getting the timely goal and big play at the right time. They didn’t get that on this night. Calgary did from Alex Tanguay, who scored the game-tying goal with 1:21 left in regulation and then scored the only goal in the shootout.

*Lehtonen was great. He was a key reason the Stars got a point out of this game. He was very good in the first two periods and he made some great stops in the third period when the Flames were really pressing for the equalizer.

*Obviously, one of the highlights of the night was the Jamie Benn-Jarome Iginla fight. Benn got in some good shots early and bloodied Iginla.

*Here’s a quote from Stars coach Marc Crawford on Benn: “He just announces his presence and he announces that he’s not only a good player, but a tough and honest competitor. Give Jarome a lot of credit. He stood up for his teammate. … Jamie, it probably took a lot out of him. That was a long, long battle. We didn’t use Jamie on the penalty kill much after that. We knew that altercation took a lot of energy out of both players. From that standpoint, I thought it was one of the highlights of the game. I’m sure you’ll see it on the hockey shows tomorrow. Jamie just keeps playing well and shows you another dimension that he has.”

*Overall, this wasn’t the result or the effort the Stars were looking for going into the break, but it’s just one game. They’re still on a pretty impressive run when it comes to points. They are 11-2-3 over the last 16 games and they still have points in 13 straight at home (10-0-3). The points are important. Regulation losses are how you fall in the standings or lose ground when you are chasing somebody. And the Stars just aren’t doing much of that these days. And that’s good. That’s why they are where they are right now.