CALGARY, AB - Another day, another set of injuries dealt to the Dallas Stars during their critical playoff push.
In a highly forgettable year in the infirmary for Dallas, the Stars received another body blow before their 2-1 loss at Calgary on Wednesday night at Pengrowth Saddledome when Mike Modano was scratched because of a lower body injury.
The 19-year veteran Modano missed only his second game of the season after being injured in Dallas' loss on Tuesday at Vancouver. Gritty winger Steve Begin also missed the game because of an upper body injury sustained against the Canucks as well.
And to add insult to more injury, the amazingly snake-bit Stars played the final 14 minutes of regulation without Brian Sutherby, who left after hurting himself while skating after a Calgary player in the neutral zone. Sutherby went off the ice and directly to the locker room while putting his hand near the top of his left leg.
Not lost in any of this in the locker room was the Stars again failed to gain ground in their race for the postseason. They remain one point below the playoff cutoff line in the Western Conference in ninth place with 74 points.
"It's not good when you lose right now, in the situation we are in," said goalie Marty Turco, who was once again terrific in net with 29 saves. "We aren't doing ourselves any favors, and we have a lot of work ahead of us. It's disheartening to not get any points on back-to-back nights. It's just frustrating losing, that's the overall sentiment."
Dallas did get back a pair of previously hurt players, as wingers Mark Parrish and rookie Fabian Brunnstrom returned from their ailments, but the rash of injured players coming and going has become borderline ridiculous. Modano, Begin and Sutherby joined an injured list that already includes Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov, Brad Richards and Toby Petersen.
"Everyone has injuries," defenseman Darryl Sydor said. "We've battled through this the majority of the year."
The resilient Stars were certainly able to battle the Northwest Division-leading Flames evenly on the scoreboard for the first 50 minutes of regulation, but guts can only take you so far.
With the team beginning to play on fumes, Calgary's Eric Nystrom snapped a third-period tie with a wrist shot from the slot with 8:14 to go in the third period to give the Flames a 2-1 lead. After Brunnstrom slightly whiffed on a clearing attempt along the right boards, Dustin Boyd barely kept the puck in at the blue line before sliding a pass to Nystrom.
"Obviously, when we only score one goal, we need more," Sydor said. "Our power play has been struggling and we need to do more. These are our playoffs right now and we need points. In the end, we have to refocus tomorrow and the next day."
Brendan Morrison scored the lone goal for the Stars, who've lost two straight after stringing together two consecutive wins. Dallas lost for the first time in its last four visits to Calgary.
"We had lots of effort and we hung around the game as best we could," coach Dave Tippett said. "You are seeing so many teams in the mix, in past years, you could predict things pretty well. We have set ourselves up with a big challenge now. We are going to have to scrape and claw for points now. We have to find ways to win. There are no excuses."
Jamie Lundmark scored Calgary's other goal, while Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 18 Dallas shots. The Flames won for just the second time in their last six games, and Kiprusoff rebounded from his last outing in which he allowed six goals on 22 shots in a loss to Toronto over the weekend.
"We had our chances but we didn't capitalize and they did," Morrison said. "It's a fine line this time of year, and every shift counts. It took us until the second period to get going. We can't ask anymore from Marty because he's doing all he can do. We understand we have to get things going. Pretty good right now isn't going to cut it."
Morrison scored the game's first goal a minute into the second period to give the Stars a 1-0 advantage. Just 10 seconds after his pass on a 2-on-1 went behind Stephane Robidas, Morrison wound up with the puck back on his stick in the bottom of the left circle, and lifted it neatly with a backhand into the top-left corner behind Kiprusoff.
It was Morrison's 12th overall goal, and second with the Stars since being plucked off waivers two weeks ago.
Lundmark tied it for Calgary at 1-1, netting his fifth of the season just over 4 minutes later. On a mini 2-on-1 that began just over the Dallas blue line, Lundmark accepted Daymond Langkow's pass from the left circle before wristing a shot over Turco from 8-feet out.
During a scoreless first period, the Flames' Warren Peters thought he had scored with just under 3 minutes left after his shot from a sharp angle nearly squirted through Turco. The play was reviewed, and the no-goal call was upheld.
It was the second night in a row the Stars survived a video replay.
Dallas now concludes its three-game western swing on Saturday afternoon at San Jose (3 p.m., FSN). It will be the sixth and final meeting between the two teams, with the Stars winning just once in the previous five affairs against the second-best team in the league and top club in the Pacific Division.
"We don't care how it gets done…we are running out of time and things to say," Turco said. "We have to start winning hockey games."
--Modano is day-to-day.
--Loui Eriksson has registered points in eight of his last 10 games after earning an assist on Morrison's goal. Eriksson has 12 points in that span.
--With so much shuttling of players in and out of the lineup lately because of all the injuries, Tippett has had to be the master of the juggle with his line combinations. On Wednesday he had Morrison centering Chris Conner and Jere Lehtinen, Mike Ribeiro in the middle of Steve Ott and Eriksson, Sutherby anchoring rookies James Neal and Brunnstrom, and Joel Lundqvist alongside Landon Wilson and Parrish.
--Dallas is now 6-2-1 in its last nine games against the Flames. The Stars had won the first two meetings this season by identical 3-1 scores.
--Dallas was outshot by a combined 20-7 margin in the first and third periods.
--The Stars went 0-for-3 on the power play, but were able to erase all five of Calgary's man advantage opportunities.
--Turco dropped to 14-7-1 with two ties in 25 career starts against the Flames.
--Ribeiro had his career-long eight-game point streak snapped.
--Dallas is now 7-7-4 when tied after two periods. Calgary, meanwhile, improved to 14-0-3.