SUN Hockey Pool

Cammalleri solid in return to lineup

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:24 AM ET

DALLAS - Michael Cammalleri looks just fine after sitting out with a suspected concussion the previous nine games (returning against the Stars after seeing stars?).

He cranked in his 16th goal of the season in patented Cammalleri fashion from one knee on a one-timer to cut the Stars lead to 2-1 in the first period, and was quickly moved to the top line at centre after starting on the wing.

“I needed to get guys quickly more engaged in the game. That goal certainly gave us some life and got us going,” head coach Brent Sutter said of the switch. “He played a real solid game for us.

“He generated some stuff, created some stuff offensively. Yet he worked his way through in his own zone pretty good, too.”

Cammalleri wasn’t all that thrilled with the results and didn’t think he was all that great, but he was happy to be back on the ice.

“I felt OK. I’ve come back from injury and had really good stretches. I’ve come back from injury and had terrible stretches. I try and analyse it and understand why so I can improve moving forward assuming that you’re not going to be 100% healthy every time,” he said. “I don’t think I was great by any means (today). I felt good and tried to contribute as best I could.”

AGAINST THE GLASS

How about Anton Babchuk? He’s known for a heavy shot, but showed some slick passing skills, too, setting up Cammalleri for that big goal with a fake slapper and quick pass to the middle ... Thought we might see a good old-fashioned line brawl after a whistle in the last 10 seconds of the second period when Sheldon Souray started jabbing Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla rushed in to throw some jabs. Meanwhile, at the blueline, Mark Giordano popped Mike Ribeiro with a quick left. It finally felt like the playoffs were on the line. Somehow, the Flames came away with a powerplay ... Jamie Benn is a great young player just coming into his own in Dallas. He scored his 23rd of the season to set a new career high in his third season after scoring 22 in each of his first two, then added the knife in the Flames’ hearts for good measure.

IN THE CREASE

No way anyone blames Miikka Kiprusoff for the occasional miss considering how many games he’s stolen for the Flames. But people often take him for granted after seeing a perfect shot beat him once in a while. That was the case when Michael Ryder’s quick fling wound up in the far side in the first period. Keep in mind, Ryder’s shot is blistering even without a windup ... Roman Horak and Tim Jackman were the healthy scratches with Cammalleri returning ... Hey, look, former Flames D Adam Pardy earned his second assist of the season.

PARTING SHOTS

Touching pre-game tribute to former Stars defenceman Karlis Skrastins, who was on the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane that crashed in September. The Stars players, who played with him for two seasons before Skrastins headed to the KHL this year, set up a trust fund for his children, and team owner Tom Gagliardi has pledged to match it. Seeing his wife Zane and three daughters on the ice was touching, but the fact youngest, Vivian, was born just a month ago without ever meeting her dad really tugs at the heartstrings ... Skrastins was the NHL’s ironman before Flames blueliner Jay Bouwmeester, who improved his own impressive string of consecutive contests to 582 Saturday afternoon against the Stars.


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