Dallas Stars (41-29-5, 87 pts) @ Calgary Flames (34-27-15, 83 pts)
8:00 PM CT, March 26, 2012
Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The game tonight means one thing for the Stars, opportunity. It's an opportunity to put themselves further ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes (a team that they have two games in hand on), a team that lost last night. It's an opportunity to bury the coffin and shovel the dirt onto the Calgary Flames playoff chances for good. Most of all, it's an opportunity to start out a season decinding four game road trip with a win.
The Stars beat the Flames 4-1 on Saturday on the first of their home-and-home series. The score line is quite deceiving though. The Stars were outplayed for pretty much the entire game and won simply because Kari Lehtonen played an amazing game (as usual) and Miikka Kiprusoff was decidedly less effective. Timely goals from Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder in the first eight minutes of the game proved to be all Dallas would need, though Benn and Brenden Morrow would provide daggers in the third period.
Those beginning eight minutes were pretty much the only moments in this game that the Stars had control of the game. In the second and third periods, the Stars were outshot 29-12 and could barely get a scoring chance to save their life. Dallas could not get any extended puck possession and were losing those battles along the boards. It really was the least convincing 4-1 win I've ever seen.
Dallas needs to get back into the saddle tonight. This will be a desperate Flames team, one that has their home crowd behind them this time. The Stars have to match the Flames intensity and give back just as much as they take. Lehtonen will definitely have to be on top of his game again tonight and the top line has to, absolutely has to, show up and put pressure on Kiprusoff tonight. He's shown how quickly things can fall apart on him if he's bombarded with shots.
Lehtonen gets the start. He's 3-0-0 against the Flames this season with a 1.60 GAA and a .951 save percentage. He's stopped 96 of 101 shots.
Dallas is only dealing with one injury. Mark Fistric will probably miss the rest of the road trip with an abdominal injury. That means more Adam Pardy, unless somehow Jordie Benn gets the start.
On the signing front, the Stars purchased the contract of Reilly Smith yesterday. The youngster will be brought to the team as soon as possible, though he'll most likely miss tonight's game because he needs to get an American work visa. Smith is one of the Stars best forward prospects and will hopefully make a strong impact on this team as a scorer.
Notes and thoughts:
- Dallas is 19-15-2 on the road this season. They've won six of the last seven road games.
- Michael Ryder and Steve Ott have a point in all three games of this series so far. Ryder has two goals and an assist while Ott has a goal and two assists.
- Lehtonen has two of his three assists this season against the Flames.
- Dallas is 41 of 43 (95%) on the penalty kill in the last 13 games. The Flames power play has been pretty bad at home all season so there shouldn't be a power play goal for Calgary tonight (there better not be).
more after the jump
Oh those Flames. Just two weeks ago they were on a five game winning streak and things were looking up. Now they enter this game on a five game losing streak (though they've gotten three loser points) and find themselves in a win-out situation or their playoff hopes are done.
Calgary will be desperate tonight and will have the home crowd back on their side. They only have six games left this season but five of them are on home ice. If they can get any momentum going, now would be the time for them to get it. They have friendly confines to work with, a place where they have been excellent this season.
Calgary has lost all three games to the Stars this year, but each game was pretty much down to the wire. The first game was decided in overtime by Mike Ribeiro's six shades of sexy goal while the second game was decided in a shootout. I've already explained how the 4-1 Stars win was not indicative of just how much the Flames dominated that game. The play of Kari Lehtonen has been the number one reason for all three of those wins.
It'll be Miikka Kiprusoff back in net tonight. He's 0-1-2 against Dallas this season with a 2.58 GAA and a .912 save percentage. He should have had an easy night in the last game but allowed three goals on just 19 shots. Dallas needs to get shots on him.
Calgary will be without defensemen TJ Brodie (upper body), Cory Sarich (upper body) and forward Mikael Backlund (shoulder). Forward Derek Smith has an upper body injury and is questionable for tonight. He didn't play in the last game.
Notes and thoughts:
- Mike Cammalleri has been the offensive weapon for the Flames in this series. He has two goals and an assist in three games. Jarome Iginla has two goals in three games.
- The Flames penalty kill is 19 of 20 (95%) in the last six games.
- Calgary is 20-10-6 at home this season. They've won four of the last six home games but managed to get at least a point in each.
- In four of Calgary's five losses, the Flames have scored only one goal. In the other loss, they scored two goals. Calgary has won six games in March. In five of those games, they scored 4+ goals while they scored three goals in the other win. If Dallas can hold the Flames offense down, things look good for the Stars.
- Feb. 16 @ American Airlines Center: Dallas 3 - Calgary 2 (OT)
- March 4 @ Scotiabank Saddledome: Dallas 3 - Calgary 2 (SO)
- March 24 @ American Airlines Center: Dallas 4 - Calgary 1
|Goals per game||3.3
|Shots per game||30.7||33.7|
|Hits per game||25.7||23
|PIM per game||11.7
|Power Play||2 of 7 (28%)||0 of 10 (0%)|
|Penalty Kill||10 of 10 (100%)||5 of 7 (72%)|