SUN Hockey Pool

Grit and bear it

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

DALLAS -- The stitched up gash just below Cory Sarich's lower lip said oh so much last night.

In a word: Grit.

It was the element the Calgary Flames needed to finish their five-game tour of the Pacific Division on a high note.

The Flames displayed plenty of that grit as they earned a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars last night at the American Airlines Center.

"The team showed some good jam to come out in the third and really compete hard and come away with two points. That was our mission," said Sarich, injured early in the game after being hit in the mouth by a deflected puck.

"It was ugly. This road trip started ugly and I guess it'll end ugly."

Ugly in a bad way early on. However, the Flames got the job done and recorded their third win in five outings to improve their record to 31-22-8.

The Flames may be a higher scoring club than prior editions of the team of years past, but they displayed a bit of that edge needed this time of year.

The playoff chase isn't getting any easier, so will must match skill to beat teams like Dallas, the NHL's hottest club going into the night with nine victories in 10 previous outings.

"We didn't get into Dallas until 3:30 and played back-to-back games. We had to really find a way tonight," said Flames head coach Mike Keenan.

"As often as we've made comments about some inconsistencies in our game, we found a way to win tonight just on pure effort.

"That's a real good sign for our hockey club right now.

"When you see an effort like that, you're really proud of the group."

Certainly, there were plenty of that group to be proud of:

* Goaltender Curtis Joseph spelled off Miikka Kiprusoff between the pipes and stopped 29 shots to earn his 447th career victory, which tied him for fourth spot with the legendary Terry Sawchuk on the NHL's all-time list.

* Alex Tanguay scored for the first time in 17 games during a first-period powerplay and added another while shorthanded.

* Sarich deflected Jussi Jokinen's slapper into his own face early, went for repairs and a full mask -- which took nearly half the game -- but then saved a goal by corraling the puck just before it crossed the line and set up Tanguay's second tally.

* Owen Nolan played with a nasty edge the savvy vet still has, winning all kinds of battles, faceoffs and being a major physical presence.

* Daymond Langkow won a race to prevent an icing and set up Jarome Iginla's game winner with 2:27 remaining. Iginla, by the way, also dropped the gloves with pest Steve Ott in the first minute of the contest.

Like we said, no shortage of heroes.

"That's part of being a good team, different contributors on different nights," Joseph said.

"It can't be the same guys every night."

In the end, Joseph received the milestone puck, joining one of the biggest names in NHL history.

"If not the biggest, him and Patrick Roy," Joseph said.

"I feel good about that accomplishment, a lot of good teams and players I've played with to make that happen.

"To be mentioned with Terry Sawchuk is a really great honour."

Iginla was impressed, too.

"That's pretty amazing," Iginla said. "It's cool to be a part of that."

Niklas Hagman and Mattias Norstrom scored for Dallas (37-22-5).

Now, the Flames return home to face the Detroit Red Wings, only three points back of the Northwest division-leading Minnesota Wild and feeling confident.

"We salvaged what could have been a pretty bad road trip," Langkow said.

"It's big. We had a good talk a couple of days ago and we've got to realize every night we need every guy at his best to win.

"That's what we've gotten the last two games and that what we need to do."


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