Final SO

Series (Game 1 of 4)

Calgary leads 4-0

Game 1: Thursday, December 23rd
Game 2: Friday, January 21st
Game 3: Wednesday, February 16th
Game 4: Wednesday, March 9th

Flames 3

(15-18-3, 33 pts)

Stars 2

(21-10-4, 46 pts)

8:30 PM ET, December 23, 2010

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

1 2 3 SO T
CGY 1 0 1 13
DAL 1 0 1 02

M. Ribeiro (Stars - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

K. Lehtonen (Stars - G): Saves: 31, Save Pct.: .939

A. Tanguay (Flames - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Flames-Stars Preview


During their impressive surge, the Dallas Stars are doing an excellent job of forcing teams to play from behind.

They might expect to build another early lead when they face the Calgary Flames, who are struggling to find the back of the net.

The Pacific Division-leading Stars again look to strike first and win their fourth in a row Thursday night against the scuffling Flames, who are trying to avoid losing their fourth straight.

Dallas (21-10-3) jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead Tuesday against Montreal and scored on four of its first 12 shots en route to a 5-2 win.

"We wanted to pounce on them," said center Brad Richards, who has scored four of his team-high 16 goals during the Stars' three-game winning streak. "We got a lead and never gave it up."

Dallas, 11-2-2 since Nov. 24, has been doing a lot of that lately.

The Stars have won 13 straight games when scoring first, dating to a loss to Anaheim on Oct. 26. Dallas, which has not trailed after the first period in five consecutive games, is 16-0-2 this season when scoring first.

This doesn't bode well for Calgary, which has allowed opponents to score first in each of the last four games. That shouldn't be too surprising considering the Flames (14-18-3), owners of the Western Conference's second-worst record, have scored one goal in three straight and lost them all.

"When you score just one goal, that makes it tough," coach Brent Sutter said after Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Columbus. "We had some chances and some opportunities and didn't capitalize on them."

It might not be easy to break out of that scoring funk at the American Airlines Center, where the Stars are 10-0-2 since a regulation loss to Los Angeles on Oct. 28.

The Flames have not had more than three goals in 14 straight games in Dallas and they've struggled to score in all opponents' arenas lately, with two goals or fewer in eight of their last 10 road games. Calgary has dropped five straight and 11 of 13 on the road.

The Stars, who went 3-0-1 against the Flames last season, have had no such trouble offensively. Dallas has 11 goals during its winning streak and five players scored Tuesday for the Stars, who have recorded a power-play goal in a season-high six straight games.

"We've had a lot of that, scoring by committee," center Steve Ott said. "Short-handed, power play, even strength, we're finding a way."

Strong play from goaltender Kari Lehtonen also has had a lot to do with Dallas' surge.

Lehtonen made 27 saves Tuesday and is 6-0-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average since Nov. 26. He is 2-1-0 with a 3.33 GAA lifetime against Calgary.

The Flames are likely to have Miikka Kiprusoff in net after he got the night off Tuesday.

Kiprusoff, 1-7-1 with a 3.11 GAA in his last nine road starts, is 2-4-2 in his last eight against Dallas despite a solid 2.12 GAA.