Some old friends decided to drop by after a long absence and the result
was a 4-3 Calgary victory in Dallas last night in the first game of an
extended six game road trip.
Criticized and given up for dead by most observers, Chris Clark, Rob
Niedermayer and Marc
Savard chipped in with key goals and Roman
Turek returned to the Calgary lineup from an injury to backstop the
Flames to their second win this year in Dallas.
Clark scored for the first time in 16 games, Savard for the first time in
12 games and Niedermayer added only his second in 11 games.
Since the tail-end of Calgary's 10 game undefeated streak which ended in
November, all three have been skating ineffective circles, the Flames
winning only twice in their previous 12 games.
The Ottawa game was also the last time the Flames had notched four goals
or more, clearly underlining Calgary is a squad that must score by committee
in order to be competitive.
McAmmond added the other Flames goal.
The victory in Dallas leaves the Flames at 16-9-6-2 on the season, good
for 40 points and third spot overall in the Western Conference behind
front-runners Detroit and Edmonton.
Calgary is 7-2-1 against Dallas, Colorado, St. Louis and Detroit this
season, a remarkable record considering they have also been soundly trounced
by also-rans like Anaheim, Columbus and Tampa Bay.
Surprisingly, the victory came without an offensive contribution from NHL
scoring leader Jarome
Iginla and sparkplug Craig Conroy.
For the Flames, however, plagued by a one-dimensional attack, the arrival
of some secondary scoring help was timely indeed.
Coach Greg Gilbert took McAmmond off the Conroy/Iginla line and gave him
to Niedermayer. The change seemed to reinvigorate the latter, who might have
played his best game as a Flame.
The victory was somewhat miraculous as the Flames fell behind 2-0 early
to one of the better defensive teams in the NHL.
Flames give up the first goal for the fifth time in six games when Pat
Verbeek found himself alone to the right of Turek with a gaping net at 4:54
of the first.
Benoit Brunet padded the Dallas lead shorthanded at 9:02. Jamie
Langenbrunner squirted the puck free at the Dallas blueline sending Brunet
in alone on Turek. Brunet hit the post on his initial attempt, but the
rebound bounced off Turek and into the net.
With the Flames reeling, Clark managed to come back immediately, scoring
on the same powerplay as Brunet's shorthanded marker, pounding an Igor
Kravchuk rebound over a sprawling Eddie Belfour at 10:35.
Calgary then stunned the Stars in the second period by first tying the
game then going ahead on goals only 71 seconds apart by by McAmmond and
Niedermayer popped out of the penalty box and joined a three on one rush,
feeding McAmmond for a one-time ripper from the slot that surprised Belfour
Savard then put the Flames on top for good, deflecting a Bob Boughner
point shot past Belfour.
In the third Niedermayer seemed to give Calgary an insurmountable
cushion, getting a couple of whacks at putting the puck over a sprawled
Belfour at 16:47.
But Mike Modano made it close at 19:21 when another post shot ricocheted
off Turek and into the net.
Turek was splendid throughout this one, his earlier rust wearing off into
a steady performance, the kind of netminding the Flames didn't get from Kay
Whitmore against Tampa a few nights ago.
Craig Conroy left the game for a time to get stitches for a nasty cut
between his lip and nose.
Calgary was one for six on the powerplay while Dallas failed to score on
five attempts with the man advantage.
The game was a less than spectacular effort by Belfour, tuning up for a
potential spot on Canada's Olympic team, with only 13 saves on 17 shots.
Turek faced 28 shots by Dallas, stopping 25 in upping his record to 15-5-5
on the year.
The game marked the 166th consecutive sellout in Dallas, attendance
coming in at 18,532.