By Stephen Hunt, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — The Calgary Flames have been one of the NHL’s top road teams this season.
Thanks to a goal and an assist each from Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan and Chad Johnson stopping 29 of 30 shots, that trend continued in a 2-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday at American Airlines Center.
“I honestly think that we played, from the start of the year, with pressure at home. And I think we played with less pressure on the road,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. “On the road, we’ve settled in and played a safer brand of hockey, a more consistent 50/50 brand of hockey.”
Monahan scored the winning goal with Calgary on the power play 9:49 into the third period, collecting a rebound of his shot to net his eighth goal of the season.
Calgary (14-13-2) won its fourth consecutive game and prevailed for the sixth time in its past eight. The Flames are 8-6-2 on the road, tying them with the Bruins and Oilers for most road victories in the league.
“The first, second, we were a little bit more run-and-gun than maybe what we wanted to,” Johnson said. “Third period, you saw we kept it simple and played just 50/50 hockey. That’s how you win hockey games on the road.”
Curtis McKenzie scored the lone goal for Dallas (10-11-6).
“It wasn’t good enough. Played a disastrous second period. We should have been down three or four,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.
Dallas took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission after McKenzie scored an unassisted goal with 6:45 remaining. McKenzie forced a turnover in the Stars’ zone and dashed up the ice before sending a wrist shot under Johnson’s glove from the right circle.
Calgary looked to tie the game 6:27 into the second period when Gaudreau had a breakaway, but Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen robbed Gaudreau at the near post with a pad save. Lehtonen stopped 18 of 20 shots.
The Flames pulled level with 7:41 remaining in the second when Gaudreau capped a two-on-none sequence with his seventh goal of the season and fifth over the past five games.
Monahan started the play by knocking the puck off the boards from inside the Calgary zone. Former Stars right winger Alex Chiasson then gained possession inside the neutral zone.
With no Stars in sight, Chiasson and Gaudreau executed a textbook give-and-go, and Gaudreau finished the rush with an easy tap-in at the near post.
The Flames looked to have taken their first lead with 4:47 remaining in the second when Mark Giordano blasted a slap shot past Lehtonen from the right point.
However, Ruff challenged, asserting that Chiasson was offside before the goal. After a short official review, the goal was nullified and the game remained 1-1.
Dallas created an excellent opportunity to pull ahead 1:05 into the third period, but Patrick Eaves’ wrist shot from the right circle found the near goalpost.
Stars defenseman Julius Honka sustained an upper-body injury late in the second period and did not return to the ice.
“It doesn’t look like anything serious, but he couldn’t play,” Ruff said.
Monahan scored the clinching goal 33 seconds into a power play resulting from a holding call on Dallas’ Brett Ritchie 9:16 into the third.
“We talk about confidence, and now it’s starting to come for him,” Gulutzan said of Monahan. “He’s comfortable with how we want to play, and now he’s getting rewarded for sticking with it.”
Ritchie appeared to have scored the tying goal with 4:35 remaining, but he used a distinct kicking motion to score and the goal was quickly nullified.
Lehtonen left the ice with 1:22 remaining, but Dallas was even with the extra attacker, and the Stars were unable to force overtime.