Flames suffer shootout loss to Stars

Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff reacts after a Stars' player scores during their game in Calgary...

Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff reacts after a Stars' player scores during their game in Calgary on March 4, 2012. (JIM WELLS/QMI Agency)

Randy Sportak, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:15 PM ET

The Calgary Flames decided Sunday's twilight clash with the Dallas Stars was the perfect time to give lucky fans the jerseys of their backs.

They playoff hopes are being stripped away, too.

Yet another extra-time loss -- a 3-2 shootout defeat at the hands of the Stars -- meant a single point in the standings for the Flames, but they continue to lose ground in the playoff chase.

"For some reason this year, we can't seem to find ways to win in overtime," said Alex Tanguay. "Last year, that overtime record was on our side. It's certainly frustrating not to get two points, but shootouts, it's often 50-50."

The Flames (29-25-12) would love to be at the break-even point in overtime and shootout games this season.

They have just one win in six games decided in overtime and a 3-7 record in shootout affairs.

It's getting to the point you wonder whether the Flames believe they can win in that situation.

"It's been tough," said captain Jarome Iginla. "It hasn't been easy losing those shootout games, but I feel they can go either way, and you can get it back in your direction and all of a sudden you feel you can get them."

Not this time, thanks to goals by Stars forwards Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson in the showdown, while Tanguay and Olli Jokinen were denied by netminder Kari Lehtonen before the announced Saddledome sellout crowd of 19,289.

Dallas (35-26-5) is seventh in the Western Conference, five points ahead of the 11th-place Flames.

Calgary is now three points behind the eighth-place San Jose Sharks, who have two games in hand.

To their credit, the Flames yet again mounted a comeback, drawing even when Iginla made it 2-2 near the midway point of the third period.

However, they yet again had to recover from a disappointing second period.

All was looking well for the hosts when Curtis Glencross extended his goal-scoring streak to four games early in the second period, the eighth straight game the Flames have opened the scoring.

But the second-period bugaboo that has hung over this team all season yet again reared its ugly head. Eriksson put the visitors on the board with a highlight-reel worthy shorthanded tally, beating Tanguay on a one-on-one before slipping a backhander past Miikka Kiprusoff, and then Michael Ryder gave Dallas the lead with a powerplay goal late just before the second intermission.

"You can talk about shootouts all you want, but at the end of the night, special teams was the difference," said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. "You should never get scored against (shorthanded). It's five-on-four. It can't happen. It changes momentum in games. Your powerplay has to be a momentum thing in a positive way. They got momentum off that, and I thought we were playing pretty good to that point, pretty solid."

Tanguay didn't hide from the blame.

"Too many mistakes cost us. I made one and I'm responsible for it," he said. "There's no excuse. I've been playing powerplay on the point all year and that hasn't happened all year. I've done it hundreds of times before this year and never got beat. I thought it was in my skates, but I guess it's my fault for that."

And now, the Flames are left with less and less time to regain the momentum they had in their favour just a couple of weeks ago, starting with Tuesday's clash against the Montreal Canadiens.

"There's 16 games left and we've got three teams we've got to pass. It's pretty obvious we've got to win," Tanguay said. "That's going to be the case Tuesday. That's going to be the case Friday. That's going to be the case for every game from now out."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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