Eriksson helps Stars edge Flames in shootout
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn gave the Dallas Stars another full two points in their push to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Eriksson had a short-handed goal and added an assist in regulation, then scored in a shootout in Dallas’ 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night.
“We haven’t been in the playoffs for a couple years,” Eriksson said. “Definitely, we need to step up here. We’ve been playing really well lately. It’s so tight in the conference. Every game is huge for us. We need to win every one here, so we have to keep going.”
Benn scored on Dallas’ first attempt in the shootout, and Eriksson connected on the second. The Stars have climbed to seventh in the Western Conference, going 6-0-1 in their last seven games.
“We’re just playing simple hockey and coming together as a group to win these games and that’s what we need right now,” Benn said. “Definitely, coming down the stretch, we need as many points as we can get and we’re getting them.”
Michael Ryder added a power-play goal, and Kari Lehtonen made 36 saves and assisted on Eriksson’s goal.
“It was an exciting game and more work than last game against the Oilers,” said Lehtonen, who made 19 saves Friday night in a 3-1 victory over Edmonton.
Curtis Glencross and Jarome Iginla scored for Calgary. The Flames have lost two straight and three of their past four. By gaining a point, they are three points behind San Jose for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
“We’ve been walking a fine line,” defenseman Cory Sarich said. “We’ve done a lot of really good things, but then it’s the couple mistakes that bite you and then it’s kind of back to square one. We’re trying our best to make sure we tip on the right side of that line. It’s been a bit of a struggle.”
Calgary is 3-7 in shootouts.
“It hasn’t been easy losing those shootout games,” Iginla said. “I honestly do feel they can go either way. We need to keep going, moving forward and work on getting the next game.”
Miikka Kiprusoff, who received a rare night off Friday when Leland Irving was in net for Calgary’s 3-2 loss at Anaheim, stopped 38 shots.
Just past the 4-minute mark in the first period, the line of Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Michael Cammalleri hemmed the Stars into their own zone and produced several good scoring chances. Lehtonen turned aside consecutive shots by Tanguay, Cory Sarich, Cammalleri and Iginla to keep the game scoreless.
During a power play for Calgary, Lehtonen then stopped Iginla’s slap shot and also denied Cammalleri from swatting in the rebound.
At the other end of the ice, Kiprusoff made a nice glove grab to snag a shot by Radek Dvorak.
A short time later, Kiprusoff turned over the puck to Eriksson behind his net. Eriksson sent the puck out to the slot, but Kiprusoff was able to get back into position to deny Mike Ribiero’s scoring attempt.
Early in the second period, Calgary forward Lance Bouma cut hard to the net and directed a shot on goal that Lehtonen turned aside. Bouma was then hit hard into the end boards by Dallas defenseman Sheldon Souray. Bouma struggled to get to his feet, immediately went to the dressing room and didn’t return to the game.
Glencross opened the scoring at 7:18 of the second with his 22nd goal, tapping in a great behind-the-back feed from linemate David Moss.
With the Flames on a power play, Eriksson took a pass from Steve Ott, skated into the Calgary zone and deked around Tanguay before lifting a perfect backhand shot over Kiprusoff’s blocker for his 22nd goal.
“I was planning to make a move on him and it worked real well,” Eriksson said. “It was nice to see that go in.”
Eriksson then set up Ryder for a power-play goal late in the second period to put Dallas up 2-1. It was Ryder’s 28th goal of the season.
The Flames had a chance to tie it early in the third period when Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas fell in the neutral zone to give Iginla a clear-cut breakaway. While Iginla failed to capitalize on the scoring attempt, he had a power-play goal a short time later when he redirected a behind-the-back feed from Cammalleri past Lehtonen. It was Iginla’s 25th of the season.
Early in overtime, Lehtonen turned aside shots by Calgary defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and T.J. Brodie.
Then with Cammalleri in the penalty box for hooking, Kiprusoff made a great glove grab to stop a point shot by Souray. Kiprusoff then slid across his crease to make a chest save to stop a shot off the stick of Ryder.
In the shootout, Benn and Eriksson scored, while Lehtonen stopped Jokinen, and Tanguay hit the post.
NOTES: With forward Blake Comeau out with an upper-body injury, defenseman Anton Babchuk returned to Calgary’s lineup after missing the past 18 games as a healthy scratch. … Glencross has scored Calgary’s first goal of the game 11 times this season. … Ryder ran his points streak to five games. He has five goals and two assists in that span. … The Stars are 8-0-1 against Canadian teams.