SUN Hockey Pool

Stars spoil the party

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

The Sea of Red was back to celebrate the long-awaited return of their heroes.

They raised the roof while watching the Western Conference championship banner, earned during the thrilling Stanley Cup playoff run of 2004, hoisted to the rafters.

Most of all, they came to honour past joy and look forward to what's supposed to be a future filled with more glory.

Too bad the Flames didn't give the 19,289 strong who filled the 'Dome for last night's home opener reason to rekindle the Red Mile and party all night long.

Philippe Boucher's OT winner gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory that spoiled the Flames' home opener.

It also leaves Calgary winless in three games.

"We wanted to get a win out of this. The fans obviously deserve that," said Matthew Lombardi, who set up both Flames goals.

"At the same time, we've got to take some positives out of this, move on to that Edmonton game and get better."

Defensively, the Flames -- now 1-3-1 -- were much better than the squad that surrendered 13 goals in their previous two outings. Better yet for the Flames, Miikka Kiprusoff looked much closer to his old form.

Still, Darryl Sutter expects more.

"There are some guys who we expect a lot more out of in terms of not just the five-on-five play but the whole performance part of it," said the Flames GM/head coach. "We have got to get that other 10 percent out of them and even tonight that would be the difference in the game."

Another bugaboo came back to haunt the Flames -- dismal penalty killing. Goals by Jere Lehtinen and Martin Skoula on back-to-back powerplay chances midway through regulation gave the Stars a 2-0 lead.

Those two powerplay goals "killed us," said winger Shean Donovan.

"We did have a good PK there on that four-minute (a double minor to Steven Reinprecht for high sticking early in the third period) so that's a positive thing," he said. "Hopefully, we're gonna build on that."

To give credit where it's due, the Flames did show enough intestinal fortitude to draw even.

Reinprecht put the hosts on the board less than two minutes after the Stars' second goal, finishing off a chance set up by Lombardi's speed.

Chuck Kobasew pulled his team even with five minutes remaining by re-directing a Lombardi pass off his skate.

Sutter, who can be notoriously tough on his charges, chose to look at the night as a step forward.

"To come back from two down, it's a tough loss," he said. "The best (way) to look at it is to take your point and try to build on it."


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