DALLAS – With first-line centre Jamie Benn done for the night with a knee injury, the Dallas Stars needed someone else to provide some magic.
Second-line centre Mike Ribeiro delivered, giving his team a critical extra point when he scored at 2:01 of overtime to give Dallas a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
Ribeiro used a nifty behind-the-back manoeuvre to keep possession and carry the puck into the Calgary zone. That set up a slapshot from just beyond the right circle that sailed over goalie Miikka Kiprusoff’s shoulder for Ribeiro’s 12th of the season.
Ribeiro pumped his fist in celebration and was mobbed by teammates after the Stars broke a 1-3-1 slide.
“That was unbelievable, what an unbelievable individual effort by him. He’s so gifted, so talented,” teammate Steve Ott said about Ribeiro’s highlight-reel move. “That was just phenomenal. I’m still in awe. I thought I blacked out on the bench.”
Benn, Dallas’ lone all-star selection, checked Calgary defenceman Mark Giordano along the boards in the Flames’ zone with just under 12 minutes remaining in the second period. Benn was cut on the back of the left knee by Giordano’s skate.
Benn, the Stars’ leader with 49 points (17 goals and 32 assists), limped down the tunnel to the locker room, done for the night, although the injury isn’t thought to be serious.
Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said Benn could just miss one game.
“There’s just stitches in his leg, so he’s going to be a day-to-day guy. It’s a pretty decent size cut,” Gulutzan said.
Ott contributed a power-play goal, Adam Burish also scored for Dallas, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots.
Jarome Iginla notched his team-high 23rd goal, and Mike Cammalleri added a goal for Calgary. Kiprusoff made 29 saves for the Flames, 4-0-3 in their last seven games.
Calgary has 63 points, two more than Dallas as the teams try to climb into the top eight in the Western Conference. The Flames are two points put of a playoff spot behind seventh-place Los Angeles and Phoenix.
“It’s so ridiculously tight, the standings now,” Ott said. “Obviously, those cliches, playoff games the rest of the way, it’s so true. Those extra points become so valuable to make the playoffs. Last season we missed by one point and this year, we need to find a way to continue to stay in the race with those five or six teams we’re battling with. This one brought us a step closer.”
Ott gave Dallas a 2-1 edge with 2:17 left in the second period with his ninth of the season. His shot from the right point got past Kiprusoff while teammate Burish provided a screen. Dallas had the man advantage while Calgary’s Olli Jokinen served a slashing penalty.
Cammalleri tied it for the Flames with 5:03 left in the third with his 13th of the season, shooting into an open net set up by Jay Bouwmeester’s cross-ice pass.
“To score late like that and get the point is huge,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said. “But I don’t think we played overly well tonight.”
The Flames know the Stars crept a little closer, with a lot of season remaining.
“It doesn’t feel too good right now to lose in OT, but it’s still a very important point and we’ll take it,” Iginla said.
Burish opened the scoring a 9:42 of the first period. He skated to the front of the net, took Jake Dowell’s pass and flipped the puck past Kiprusoff’s glove.
Iginla drew Calgary even with 53 seconds left in the period, firing a shot past Lehtonen from the left circle.
The Flames had consecutive power plays with under 10 minutes left in regulation.
Lehtonen made four quick saves on the first power play while Trevor Daley served a delay of game penalty. Daley had been out of the box for 14 seconds when Ott was whistled for charging, but Lehtonen and Dallas’ penalty killers were able to keep the Flames off the board.
Earlier Thursday, the Stars traded defenceman Nicklas Grossman to Philadelphia for a 2012 second-round pick and a 2013 third-round pick.
Grossman is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Stars weren’t going to attempt to re-sign him. Grossman’s departure opens more consistent ice time for defenceman Mark Fistric, who’d been a healthy scratch in five of the previous 10 games.
If the Stars continue to slump, they figure to be sellers rather than buyers with the Feb. 27 trade deadline looming as general manager Joe Nieuwendyk looks to build for the future.
“I don’t really like the term (of buyer or seller),” Nieuwendyk said. “Everyone wants to talk about this. But today is an isolated case. It shows we’re going to be active, to look at things that make our hockey club better. Things present themselves that do that, we’re going to look at it.”
NOTES: LW Brenden Morrow (neck, shoulder) and D Sheldon Souray (foot) are out for Dallas. … The Flames are without D Derek Smith (ankle), C Mikael Backlund (shoulder), C Blair Jones (ankle), LW Curtis Glencross (knee), RW David Moss (ankle) and RW Lee Stempniak. … Burish connected in consecutive games for the first time this season.