CALGARY – In a showdown Friday night between two of the NHL’s hottest scorers, Mike Ribiero scored twice to outduel Jarome Iginla.
Ribeiro’s second goal 57 seconds into overtime gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over the Flames snapping Calgary’s six-game winning streak.
On the game winner, Ribeiro won a face-off deep in the Flames zone and pulled the puck back to defenceman Sergei Zubov, whose shot from the blue-line was deflected by Ribiero past goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
“It was a good heads up play by Zubov to throw the puck in there just a little bit wide for the tip,” said Ribiero, whose 18 goals is just two off his career high of 20 set in 2003-04 while a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
Centring the Star’s top line with Brendan Morrow and Antti Miettinen, Ribeiro has six goals and 11 points in the past six games. Dallas has gone 5-1 in those games to move into second spot in the Western Conference.
“Usually it starts after the all-star game, but this year every game’s important as everyone’s in it,” Ribiero said. “We’re playing with confidence right now, everyone’s playing well and chipping in, and our special teams are going good”.
Niklas Hagman also scored for Dallas (20-12-4), which returns home to begin a four-game homestand on Sunday against Montreal.
Matthew Lombardi and Alex Tanguay scored for Calgary (17-13-6), which remains in seventh place in the Western Conference. In the ultra tight Northwest Division, the Flames move to within two points of Vancouver, Minnesota, and Colorado, who are locked in a three-way tie atop the division.
“We had opportunities, a lot of them,” said Lombardi. “We came out a little flat but we picked our game and did some good things but we didn’t capitalize while they took care of their chances”.
The Flames were making their first appearance back at the Pengrowth Saddledome after a perfect 11-day road trip in which they became just the fourth team in NHL history to win every game of a six-game road trip.
“We obviously put ourselves in a hole early on so this is the time of year where we have take advantage and keep getting points,” Lombardi said.
After seeing its 1-0 first period lead erased on two straight goals by the Flames in the second, Dallas got back to even 4:01 into the third on Hagman’s 12th goal.
The most dangerous Dallas player all night with eight shots – no other Star had more than two, Hagman finally got a puck behind his fellow countryman when he shook free of Flames defenceman Anders Eriksson and raced to the front of the net where he one-timed a cross-ice pass from Loui Eriksson.
“I had my fair share of shots and chances, a couple close ones and eventually I got a really good pass that I couldn’t miss,” Hagman said.
Calgary had several chances to take the lead in the third period but were repeatedly turned away by Stars goaltender Mike Smith, who had 22 saves to improve to 7-5-0.
“Our penalty killing was huge in the third period and Smitty’s a big part of the PK,” said Ribiero. “He’s been really good for us and did a great job for us tonight keeping us in the game.”
Ribeiro compares Smith to Vancouver all-star goaltender Roberto Luongo.
“He’s so big and he’s good in practice, it’s so hard to score against him. It makes me think of Luongo size-wise and his style is similar too.”
In one stretch in the third period, Smith sprawled to get a stick on Jarome Iginla’s dangerous one-timer from the face-off circle before smothering a Daymond Langkow shot moments later.
“Our line also could have had a couple more goals in the third period and when you don’t score, that’s what happens, it comes back to haunt you,” said Tanguay.
After tying the game on Tanguay’s goal at 4:31 of the second, Lombardi’s first goal in thirteen games gave Calgary its first lead of the night at 16:43.
Notes: Iginla’s five-game goal-scoring streak was snapped… Dating back to last season, Kiprusoff has gone 40 starts since his last shutout… Kiprusoff’s career record against Dallas falls to 4-7-2… Dallas and Colorado are the only two NHL teams with five players in double digits in goal scoring… The Flames top line of Iginla, Kristian Huselius, and Langkow had combined for 42 points (22 goals, 20 assists) the first nine games of December before being blanked Friday night… The Flames have lost 12 games at the Pengrowth Saddledome, surpassing their total from all of last season when they led the league with a 30-9-2 home record.