Mike Ribeiro just keeps delivering vintage performances for the Dallas Stars.
Ribeiro’s two goals, including the game-winner 57 seconds into overtime, led the Stars to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Calgary Flames Friday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
In the final contest of a four-game road trip that included visits to all three Western Canadian cities, the Stars finished 3-1 and won for the fifth time in their last six outings. The victory keeps them in first place in the Pacific Division, extending their lead over San Jose to three points.
It was a big win over a hot Calgary team that was playing its first game back home after winning all six games of a six-game road trip.
The Stars, who were down 2-1 going into the third period, also got a goal from Niklas Hagman, who tied it early in the final period.
Mike Smith got the start in goal for the Stars, his first in six games, and he was excellent, making 22 saves, including 11 in the third period. He had lost his two previous decisions.
“I haven’t played a lot in the last little while so it felt good to get back in there,” said Smith, who last patrolled the crease Dec. 7 in a 4-2 loss to Ottawa. “I just tried to give the team a chance to win and we had that big kill in the third and a nice overtime goal to get us there. It was a big win for this club and ends a very successful trip for us. I think anybody will take 3-1 on the road.”
Calgary outshot Dallas 11-5 in the final period and the Stars had to kill off a late power play just to reach overtime, but still prevailed. Ribeiro won a face-off deep in the Calgary zone, got the puck back to Sergei Zubov at the blue line and headed for the front of the net, where he made a deft deflection of Zubov’s wrist shot that beat Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff between the pads for the game-winner.
It was Ribeiro’s seventh goal in the last seven games and his team-leading 18th of the season, matching his total from all of last year and just two shy of his career-high of 20 with Montreal in 2003-04.
“The only way we even got to overtime was because the penalty kill got us there with a huge kill at the end,” Ribeiro said. “It was a great team effort and Smitty was huge again for us. It finished a great trip for us and we go home a little happier.”
Trailing 2-1 going into the third, the Stars came out strong early, as Hagman and Loui Eriksson created the first two chances about 1:40 in. Hagman carried wide into the left corner, then slid a cross-ice pass to Eriksson at the right post, but Kiprusoff stopped his point-blank one-timer and then another from Hagman seconds later from low in the right face-off circle.
The Stars then got the equalizer at 4:01 on Hagman’s 12th goal of the season, which seemed like only a matter of time, the way he was generating scoring chances all night. Eriksson, controlling the puck behind the Calgary net, cut out over the goal line and whipped a sweet cross-ice pass to the right post, where Hagman rammed it into the open side of the net.
Just 15 seconds after that, the Flames almost stole the momentum right back, but Smith made a huge sprawling save on Craig Conroy’s point-blank backhander.
The Stars dodged a bullet with 11:45 remaining when Smith denied Conroy’s in-close backhander, and Dustin Boyd’s rebound attempt from the lip of the crease fluttered over Smith and just above the crossbar.
Smith made another larcenous stop with 8:35 to go in the third with the Flames on a power play. Jarome Iginla, in the left corner, fed a nice cross-ice pass to Daymond Langkow on the right side of the crease, and Smith slid across to thwart the resulting one-timer.
Another close call for Dallas occurred about two minutes after that, when Smith turned aside Dion Phaneuf’s wrist shot from the blue line. The rebound spilled into the slot, and with Smith down on the right side of the crease, Alex Tanguay shot for the open side, but defenseman Trevor Daley dropped to the ice and blocked it.
The Stars faced more adversity late when Antti Miettinen was whistled for hooking with just 1:45 left in regulation, so the Stars were forced to kill off a power play for the rest of the third period and 15 seconds into overtime.
“We were running on fumes that last period but you have to give guys credit, we hung around the game and earned the win,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “The players were saying after the second period that we needed to max out in the third because we had 20 minutes left in the trip and we earned two valuable points.”
Entering the second with a 1-0 lead, the Stars gave up the first good scoring chance of the period two and a half minutes in, when just nine seconds into a Calgary power play, Langkow fed Iginla in front for a point-blank one-timer, but Smith made a sparkling pad save.
Two minutes later, after the teams were back to even-strength, Calgary tied the game on Tanguay’s ninth goal of the season. Smith, despite having two Flames blocking his vision in front, stopped Robyn Regher’s wrist shot from the blue line but Tanguay found the loose rebound and knocked it home at 4:31.
The Flames had another good chance about two minutes later as Iginla, with the puck behind the net, passed out front to Langkow, but the puck ricocheted off Langkow’s skate, hit Smith in the mask and went wide.
The Stars pushed back midway through the period, generating some chances, as Kiprusoff made a nice stop on Jussi Jokinen’s one-timer from the high slot through a screen with 11:10 remaining, then back-to-back saves on Hagman 30 seconds later.
After another Kiprusoff save on Hagman later in the period, the Flames counter-attacked, and off the rush into the Stars’ zone, Matthew Lombardi connected for his eighth goal of the season (and third against Dallas in two games) with 3:17 remaining in the period. Lombardi carried into the Stars’ zone and ripped a wrist shot from the right circle that sailed over Smith’s glove into the upper corner of the net.
After being outshot 7-0 at one point in the period, the Stars came back in that area and made the final tally 9-9, but they were outscored 2-0.
Smith was welcomed back to the crease for his first action since Dec. 7 with a flurry of activity in front of him on the opening shift. With Smith down and a mad scramble in front, the puck squirted into the slot, where Conroy picked it up and backhanded it towards the empty side of the net, but it hit Zubov’s leg, just 30 seconds in.
The Stars jumped on the scoreboard first just 2:42 into the contest on a beautifully-executed play by captain Brenden Morrow and Ribeiro. Ribeiro, who had just been leveled by a fierce hit from Phaneuf on the previous shift, cut into the slot and received a sweet no-look backhand pass from Morrow behind the net. Ribeiro, alone in front, skated across the top of the crease, faked Kiprusoff to the ice and roofed a backhander over him for the early 1-0 lead.
About 30 seconds later, Steve Ott and Calgary’s Mark Smith engaged in a pretty good fight, with the edge probably going to Smith.
Mike Smith made another nice save with 7:22 remaining when he got his shoulder on a one-timer blast from Phaneuf from the left circle.
The Stars ended up outshooting the Flames 7-3 in the opening period.
Following their four-game road trip, the Stars now return home for the holidays, facing off next against the Montreal Canadiens (and coach Guy Carbonneau) on Sunday at 7 pm (my27). It will be Carbo’s first return to Dallas as a head coach.
- Hagman’s goal was his first in six games and just his third on the road this season, compared with nine in the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center. He had a career-high eight shots on goal; no other Star had more than two.
- Ribeiro now has seven goals and 12 points in his last seven games. With two goals on two shots, Ribs also continues to lead the entire NHL in shooting percentage, scoring his 18 goals on a total of 47 shots, for a stellar 38.3 per cent.
- Miettinen continued his hot streak with an assist on Ribeiro’s first goal, giving him eight points (three goals, five assists) since returning from a groin injury six games ago.
- Morrow’s assist gives him nine points (three goals, six assists) in his last seven contests.
- Zubov’s assist on the game-winner was his ninth, along with one goal, in the last seven games. As usual, Zubov led the Stars in ice time, logging 26:42.
- Eriksson’s assist on Hagman’s goal was his third in the last four games, after he had just one in the previous eight.
- Daley’s assist on Hagman’s goal snapped a six-game pointless drought.
- The Stars held the Flames’ potent top line of Iginla, Langkow and Kristian Huselius off the scoresheet. Considering Huselius had five goals and 13 points in his previous four games and Iginla compiled eight goals and 11 points on the six-game road trip, that was quite an accomplishment. The trio combined for 10 shots on goal, led by Iginla’s six, but none got past Smith.
- Defenseman Mattias Norstrom left the game early in the second period, on the play that Calgary tied the game 1-1, as he took Flames forward Dustin Boyd out of the play, he appeared to fall awkwardly on his right leg. Officially, it is a lower body injury. He played a total of 9:19, taking one shot on goal and blocking one shot.
- Smith, whose last victory was Nov. 25 at Madison Square Garden when he made 39 saves against the Rangers, had started just two of 13 games since then coming in.
- Dallas has been very successful in trips that have included all three of the Western Canadian teams, as this one has. Including their 2-1 mark this year, since the 2001-02 season, the Stars are 16-5-3 against Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver in road trips in which they have played all three.
Backhand shot -