Lone goal fate

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

DALLAS -- It was touted as a goaltending battle.

Instead, it turned into a special teams contest.

But the lone goal that came at even strength made the difference as the Dallas Stars sent the Calgary Flames home on a sour note with a 3-2 loss at the American Airlines Center yesterday afternoon.

With the game tied after a quick exchange of goals early in the second period, Jason Arnott potted the winner with a great individual play to cap off a two-on-one rush.

Bearing down on defenceman Andrew Ference and Miikka Kiprusoff, Arnott leaned as if he would pass but instead found a little open space between the netminder's outstretched legs after Ference slid to take away the middle.

The Flames, who scored both their goals on the powerplay during a game that featured 28 infractions, couldn't capitalize on any of their chances the rest of the way, coming up short despite a solid effort in the finale of a tiring seven-game road trip.

"We were all working. We knew it would be a tough game," said Iginla, who set up Jordan Leopold in the slot on the Flames' second score.

"Physically, we were there, we were ready to go. It was, I thought, one of our better physical efforts in a while as far as emotions. Some games don't call for that but (yesterday's) did.

"It comes down to the one goal."

With Calgary leading 1-0 after the first period on Jamie Lundmark's first goal as a Flame, a shorthanded marker by Niko Kapanen gave the Stars a little momentum early in the second period.

Kapanen honed in on Niklas Hagman's rebound before either of the Flames defenders could reach the loose puck and swatted it high past Kiprusoff to pull even.

"The shorthanded goal. That's a backbreaker whenever it happens," said Ference. "It's obviously a big difference tonight."

A few minutes later, the Stars took the lead for the first time on Mike Modano's powerplay goal.

Playing the point, Modano one-timed Antti Miettinen's pass past Kiprusoff for his 27th of the season.

The Flames responded with a second man-advantage goal of their own 28 seconds later when Leopold pinched in and took Iginla's pass in the slot, wristing his second of the season past Marty Turco.

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter said he was pleased with the effort put forward by his players at the tail end of such a long journey.

"When you score two powerplay goals against a team like that, usually it's good enough," said Sutter. "It wasn't. We make it 2-2, they come right back on Arnott's goal -- a turnover in the neutral zone -- it's the difference in the game.

"It's a tough building to play in and we played our guts out."

All four games they have played against each other this season have been decided by a single goal, most recently a 1-0 shutout for Kiprusoff at the Saddledome.

Both Kiprusoff and Turco played well enough to win, making a few big stops at both ends while their teams were shorthanded.

Kiprusoff finished with 20 saves, Turco with 17.

Iginla said the team did everything they could to pull off a big victory and take advantage of their powerplay opportunities.

"We had two powerplay goals, we had chances to get more," said Iginla.

"As good as the first two were -- and they were big goals at the time -- you'd love to get that one more for the group."


Photos