CALGARY - Marty Turco has always lugged a heavy load. This may be the year he gets plenty of help thanks to Alex Auld.
Auld finished with 21 solid saves, and Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards each had a goal and assist to lift Dallas to its first victory of the season, a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday night.
Auld, playing in his first regular season game for the Stars since being acquired in a trade with Ottawa in July, showed exactly why he could become a key component in the Stars quest to get back into the postseason. He made several brilliant stops as the night wore on, and set the tone early when he denied three consecutive whacks by Calgary forward Dustin Boyd from in tight just five minutes into the game.
His play rewarded coach Marc Crawford's confidence in him, and showed the team they've got a legitimate backup for Turco, something that has been lacking since Mike Smith was shipped to Tampa Bay for Brad Richards in Feb. 2008.
If Auld is able to build off this inaugural performance, there shouldn't be any apprehension by Crawford to trot the 28-year-old out there when Turco needs a breather.
"I thought he managed the game pretty well tonight," Crawford said. "I was pleased with his positioning. His puck-handling was pretty good too, and you can see Marty's influence. It's great to see Alex add some of that dimension to his game."
Brian Sutherby, Tom Wandell, and Loui Eriksson also scored for the Stars, who rebounded from two shootout losses in their first two games of the year. The Stars also denied the Flames' bid to get off to their best start in franchise history. Dallas sent Calgary to its first loss after an unblemished 4-0 beginning.
"We've been playing well but when you get a victory, you start getting some momentum," Crawford said. "I thought our guys did a good job on quick shifts. They stayed with it and we will build some confidence on this one, for sure."
The Flames were coming off a dramatic shootout win on Thursday in Edmonton, and were engaging in their third game in four nights.
"Crawford made it a point to make sure we came out strong," defenseman Trevor Daley said.
That they did, as Ribeiro found the back of the net just 62 seconds into the game when he notched his first of the year. Calgary defenseman Staffan Kronwall blocked Stephane Robidas' wrist shot from the right point, but the puck bounced right to Ribeiro in the high slot. Ribeiro quickly popped it in past Calgary backup goalie Curtis McElhinney.
Robidas nearly upped the lead on the power play with just under three minutes left in the first, but his one-timer from the top of the left circle rang off the post.
McElhinney was making just his eighth career NHL start, giving starter Miikka Kiprusoff the night off after Kiprusoff had started the first four games for the Flames. McElhinney made 25 stops, and dropped to 1-9-1 lifetime.
Dion Phaneuf and Rene Bourque scored for the Flames, who've scored just eight times against the Stars over the past five meetings between the two teams in Calgary.
"I thought our defense did a terrific job, especially the pair of Robidas and Grossman," Crawford said. "They were faced against (Jarome) Iginla and (Olli) Jokinen's line all night and I thought they did a terrific job."
Bourque cut Dallas' lead to 3-2 with a power-play goal with 14:43 left in the third period. The goal came a minute after Fabian Brunnstrom appeared to have scored with a terrific individual effort when he shot the puck while on his stomach from in tight. No goal was called on the ice, and the call was upheld after a brief review.
The Stars, though, regained their two-goal cushion when Eriksson, standing a couple feet from the left-corner of the crease, re-directed Richards' one-time pass from the right circle midway through the final stanza.
Richards iced it with an empty-net goal with 47 seconds to go.
Up by a goal after one period, Sutherby scored his first of the year 55 seconds into the second period to give the Stars a 2-0 edge. From the high slot Sutherby chipped the puck to Toby Petersen down low before getting the puck right back from Petersen between the hash marks. His quick wrist shot appeared to go off a stick before winding up behind McElhinney.
Phaneuf cut the lead in half with a power-play goal at 4:17 of the middle frame, his third tally of the season. With Steve Ott in the penalty box, Iginla drew the puck back to Phaneuf after the Flames captain beat Richards on the faceoff in the right circle. Phaneuf in turn launched a blistering slap shot that ripped off the left post before going in.
Wandell gave Dallas its two-goal lead back when his wrist shot from the outer edge of the right circle bounced up, over, and past McElhinney for a 3-1 Stars advantage. After McElhinney blocked the original shot, the puck shot upwards and then behind the goaltender before dribbling in with 11 minutes left in the second.
The shot was just the Stars' third of the period, but two had already gone in.
The Stars will conclude their three game western road swing when they travel to Vancouver to take on the Canucks on Sunday night (9 p.m., FSN). The Canucks lost their first three games of the season before routing Montreal, 7-1, this past Wednesday.
--Defenseman Mark Fistric played in his first game of the season after being scratched in the first two contests, and was paired with Matt Niskanen. Jeff Woywitka was a healthy scratch, while Mike Modano (ribs) and Jere Lehtinen (hip/groin) continue to be sidelined because of injuries.
--Before coming to Dallas, Auld was 4-1-1 in his last eight games with the Senators last season, allowing just 14 goals and posting a 2.04 GAA during that stretch.
--Robidas had a pair of assists.
--The Stars scored first for the first time this season.
-- Jamie Benn picked up an assist on Ribeiro's goal, the second consecutive game the 20-year-old rookie's earned a point.
--The Stars had 11 different players notch at least a point.
--Auld came in with a robust 5.12 goals-against average in his last three appearances against the Flames.
--The Flames converted on two of their four power-play opportunities.
--Dallas has surrendered five power-play goals in the first thee games.