The St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues all collected the full two points on a busy Thursday evening in the NHL's best division. The Dallas Stars, on the other hand, went completely without.
The Calgary Flames brought all 30 of their points to the American Airlines Center and shutdown the conference's best offense, limiting it to a single shorthanded goal en route to a 3-1 win.
Dallas, some will say, ended with 83 shot attempts to Calgary's 50- A dominant final disposition on this one to be sure, but shot attempts were virtually even through the game's opening 40 minutes (43-40) and that's where this one was decided.
Calgary, content to bend and not break, watched as the Stars poured shots of the largely harmless variety toward Karri Ramo's net in a third period that was pleasing to the eyeballs, though fueled by "score-effects," and bereft of results as Dallas failed to puncture the Flames' netminder on the power play or at even-strength.
The win marks Calgary's seventh.
The loss marks the fourth time over the last six games that the Stars' offense has been limited effectively- Only two against the Flyers (+EN), only one against Edmonton, shutout in St. Louis, and now stymied here tonight.
Dallas started as strong as they pledged after Ruff's pointed comments following Tuesday's game against Columbus, getting out to an early 5-2 advantage in shots, but penalty trouble and failure on their own power plays allowed Calgary to push hard in the late stages of the first, earning both goals they'd need before the first break.
Kari Lehtonen was beat high short-side by Sean Monahan and then again short-side three minutes later by Doug Hamilton, who has scored just four times this season- Twice against Dallas.
Ramo was sufficient at the other end, but the Stars were fighting the puck tonight and had nothing in the way of puck luck. Calgary's best defense was quick feet and won races to loose pucks: What the Stars excel at when they're firing on all cylinders. Lately the confidence in the transition game has not been there, and the other end has suffered.
More troubling still is what had been one of the best power plays in the league that continues to drain them of momentum instead of thrusting disheartening daggers at the opposition. The 0-for-3 tonight means they've converted just two of their last thirty attempts- And both of those came in the same game.
They've now failed to score a power play goal in eight of their last nine games, and recorded just four shots on Ramo in their full six minutes of time this evening. Two of those PP shots belonged to Patrick Eaves. One to Ales Hemsky.
That means the Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin power play unit recorded a single shot on goal (a Jamie Benn tip-attempt) in three power play attempts.
Two points in a three game stretch is now Dallas' worst of the year and has allowed the Blues, who are charging hard, to come within spitting distance as Christmas approaches. The Stars now get a mad Montreal team that got spanked by the Kings (also gunning for Dallas atop the conference and charging hard) on Saturday.
Things are getting... challenging. Let's see how they handle the adversity, albeit still with a chance to earn their 49th and 50th points before Christmas.