SUN Hockey Pool

Flames are Texas toast

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

DALLAS -- If frustration among the Calgary Flames on the road is like a simmering pot of water, one strange scenario in the first period last night was enough to get it boiling over.

Already down 1-0 on Dallas Stars centre Mike Modano's 501st NHL goal as a powerplay expired, the Flames again found themselves having to kill off a penalty.

Except this time an infraction never took place.

It would be tough to even convince a jury of intent.

Ultimately, continued penalty trouble and a failure to capitalize on their chances with the extra man was the Flames' undoing as they dropped their 18th road game of the season, 4-2 to the Stars, at American Airlines Center.

But the early incident involving goaltender Jamie McLennan was one of those game-changers.

Angry over contact with Antti Miettinen just outside his crease, McLennan slammed his stick against his post parently in protest after peeking to see if Gord Dwyer was calling goaltender interference.

Dwyer didn't but his arm shot up the second McLennan's lumber rang off the post, despite the fact the stick came nowhere near Miettinen's body.

Junior Lessard scored his first career goal on the ensuing man-advantage to put the Flames down a pair.

A seething McLennan was given two minutes for slashing, another two for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10-minute misconduct during a penalty-plagued opening period that saw the Stars rack up most of their 10 shots during five powerplays.

Dwyer spent a couple of minutes chatting with Flames head coach Jim Playfair as captain Jarome Iginla shook his head on the bench.

Even veteran Tony Amonte felt the need to express himself to the man in stripes as they headed off the ice after the buzzer signalled the end of the period.

The Flames were a better team at even strength and rallied in the second period, beating Marty Turco just after a powerplay of their own expired.

Defenceman Sergei Zubov coughed up the puck in the slot and Alex Tanguay tried to feed David Moss in front.

Moss missed but Matthew Lombardi tucked the bouncing puck past Turco.

Iginla had a chance to tie the game on a breakaway but was denied by Turco, who had the Flames captain's number on the night.

Recovering their two-goal cushion with a second powerplay marker, this time by Niklas Hagman, the Stars returned to dropping four men back to smother the Flames and went on to win their sixth straight against Calgary in the comfort of their own rink.

The Flames haven't won in the Lone Star State since December of 2001.

Tanguay finally got his side a powerplay marker with 2:50 left in regulation but they couldn't beat Turco a third time for the equalizer before Jere Lehtinen hit the empty net with McLennan out for an extra attacker.

Adding to the continued bad luck on the road was another injury to a rapidly depleting Flames bench.

McLennan was lucky to recover quickly from a Philippe Boucher blast that knocked his mask off but they lost Robyn Regehr for the night when he slammed into the boards feet-first in the opening period as he raced for the puck against Joel Lundqvist.

Amonte took a puck to the face late in the third period.

Stephane Yelle was lost indefinitely Wednesday night after a hard hit from Avalanche winger Wojtek Wolski in Denver and both Rhett Warrener and Craig Conroy didn't make the trip.

Calgary hosts the Minnesota Wild Saturday night (7 p.m., no TV) in a crucial Northwest Division clash.


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