SUN Hockey Pool

Can't catch falling Stars

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

DALLAS -- A trace of snow on the ground and the chill in the air brought the mercury to near the freezing mark.

Perfect hockey weather ... in Calgary.

In Dallas, though, the conditions were harsh enough to warrant a thank you to the fans who braved the Texas tundra during "Arctic Blast 2007" and showed up at the American Airlines Center.

In the end, the Stars also could have thanked the Calgary Flames for showing up colder than Old Man Winter and allowing the undermanned Dallas side to win 4-2 last night.

"We got outworked, pretty simple," said Calgary defenceman Robyn Regehr.

"In the first two periods, all they did is what we should have done -- come hard on the forecheck, play in the offensive zone and get chances.

"For some reason, we refused to do that until we were down in the game, late in the game."

If the cool weather in Big D wasn't enough to put the visitors in full playing mode, the host's lineup card should have provided plenty of incentive.

The Stars were playing without Mike Modano, Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov and leading scorer Philippe Boucher.

But instead of cold-bloodedly bashing around a roster half-filled with minor leaguers, the Flames sputtered and chugged.

"They're a team missing the majority of their top players -- players they really rely on and can make a difference for them in the game -- and have a lot of minor-league guys but we didn't take advantage of that at all," Regehr said.

"We waited until the third period to even be close to them. You can't just play one period in this league and expect to win."

Surprisingly, the Flames managed to pull out of the one-sided opening frame tied with Stars, as Jere Lehtinen and Kristian Huselius traded goals before the announced sellout crowd of 18,532, about half of the crowd disguised as empty seats (presumably because of the weather).

Instead of thanking their lucky stars and regrouping in the second period, the visitors continued their horrid road ways. Calgary is now 6-12-2-2 away from the Saddledome.

The Flames trailed by a pair before the game's midway point thanks to Joel Lundqvist's first NHL goal and another by Stu Barnes.

Especially painful to watch was the go-ahead tally, created when Flames defenceman Andrei Zyuzin miscalculated his pass to partner Andrew Ference, nailing the side of the net instead of the end boards, which saw the puck ricochet to the front of the net.

"Mental preparation," bemoaned head coach Jim Playfair.

"It's about being ready to compete and being ready to play. We've just got to get better."

Stephane Yelle drew Calgary within a goal with more than eight minutes remaining in regulation but Lehtinen iced the clash with an empty netter.

Huselius said the Stars played solid defensively when they got the lead.

"It was tough to get scoring chances against," said Huselius, who scored his 20th goal of the season.

"We had a good comeback but we couldn't get it done."

The Flames remain second in the Northwest Division with their 24-17-4 record, one point back of Vancouver.

Dallas, which snapped a three-game losing skid the game before, improved to 28-18-1.

The Flames return home to face the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow.


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