DALLAS --The Dallas Stars needed a bounce-back performance after a tough two-game road trip over the weekend, and thanks to two goals from captain Jamie Benn, a three-point performance from rookie Alex Chiasson and a 28-save performance from Kari Lehtonen, they got exactly that in a 5-1 win over the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center on Thursday.
"It was big," said Chiasson, who had two goals and an assist. "Tonight we played hard and won the one-on-one battles."
The Stars scored three goals within 61 seconds in the second period to break the game open and never looked back.
"When we sensed a little bit of blood there in the second, I thought we took control of the game, which was good to see," Dallas first-year coach Lindy Ruff said. "And then once we had control, we played a pretty efficient and smart game."
Dallas, which snapped a two-game losing streak, led 1-0 after one period, striking first 4:04 into the game when Chiasson netted his first goal of the night. After Ray Whitney, who finished with two assists, sent the puck toward the Calgary net, Chiasson's initial shot was denied by Flames goaltender Karri Ramo. But Chiasson collected the rebound and flipped it in to give the Stars their first lead.
The Flames tied it up 4:30 into the second period when Lee Stempniak beat Lehtonen on his short side with a 30-foot wrist shot from the right faceoff circle.
But at 11:11 of the middle frame, Chiasson put Dallas ahead for good when he scored his fifth of the season off a 20-foot wrister that glanced off Ramo's shoulder before going in. His shot was initially not deemed a goal but after a review about 20 seconds later, a goal was awarded.
"I didn't see it, to be honest," Chiasson said of his second tally. "I didn't know it was in until I was on the bench and everyone was telling me it was in."
Ruff admits he didn't initially see whether or not his rookie winger's blast was a goal or not, but once he got a telltale sign from one of his more veteran players, he knew his Stars had just taken the lead.
"I didn't really see it, but when Kari (Lehtonen) stopped and froze the puck where did, which is usually a penalty, (I thought) Kari must have known it was a goal," Ruff said. "So, that was my feeling. He must know it's a goal otherwise he's risking a minor."
Benn added his second of the season just 18 seconds later when the Dallas captain connected with a 32-foot wrister over Ramo's right shoulder to make it 3-1. The Stars capped their impressive offensive flurry at 12:12 when Brenden Dillon scored his third of the season off a 65-foot wrister from near the blue line after Shawn Horcoff won a faceoff.
"Well, those three quick goals, they definitely took lots of energy out of us and we just couldn't recover," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "I felt that we started the third period on a good note. We had a huge hole to come back and they got that goal, so basically the game was over right there."
At 3:36 of the third, Benn added a second, scoring on a backhand shot after his initial volley deflected off the end boards. Benn collected the carom, skated around the left side of the visiting net before slipping it in off Ramo's pads. Chiasson got the lone assist on Benn's tally.
Lehtonen missed the past five games with a lower-body injury before returning to full practice earlier in the week. Dallas went 1-4-0 during his absence.
"(He) played very well," Ruff said of Lehtonen's performance. "(He) gave us a couple of key saves at real important times."
Thursday's game also marked the NHL debut of Stars defenseman Kevin Connauton, who finished with four blocked shots in 16:05 of ice time.
"I wanted to keep things really simple," Connauton said. "I didn't want to do anything flashy or high-risk."
Ramo stopped 29 of the 34 shots he faced for Calgary, which ended its five-game road trip at 1-4-0.
NOTES: Scratches for Calgary were D Mark Giordano, out with an undisclosed injury, LW Sven Baertschi and RW Brian McGrattan. ... Stars D Alex Goligoski and D Aaron Rome, who cleared waivers Thursday morning, were healthy scratches. ... Flames C Matt Stajan, who has missed the past eight games with a leg injury, returned to the ice for Calgary for the first time since Oct. 3 at Washington. ... Stars D Kevin Connauton, acquired in an April trade with Vancouver for C Derek Roy, made his NHL debut at the blue line alongside veteran D Sergei Gonchar. ... Thursday's game marked the end of a five-game road trip for Calgary. The Flames were 1-3-0 through the trip's first four games. ... Scouts from seven NHL teams were in the press box for the game. ... Announced attendance was 13,122.