CALGARY, Alberta (AP)—The Dallas Stars benefited from a little addition by subtraction.
Rookie Fabian Brunnstrom scored the winning goal and Marty Turco made 36 saves as Dallas beat the Calgary Flames 3-1, capping an emotional day in which the NHL suspended Stars forward Sean Avery indefinitely for inappropriate comments made hours before the game.
Brunnstrom’s breakaway goal at 7:53 of the second period snapped a 1-1 tie. Sent in alone after taking a long pass from Trevor Daley, his initial shot was stopped by Miikka Kiprusoff. He then reached across with one hand on his stick and hit enough of the bouncing puck to swat it over the line.
It was all the offense Marty Turco needed in one of his best games of the season. He made 36 saves and held the opposition to fewer than three goals for just the third time and second since Oct. 20.
Avery was suspended by the NHL for conduct “detrimental to the league or game of hockey” after the outspoken forward made disparaging comments about Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf after the Stars’ morning skate. Phaneuf is dating Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert, one of Avery’s ex-girlfriends.
The Stars’ penalty-minute leader was immediately sent home by the team.
“You have to really appreciate the effort and focus of this club with all that’s gone on, never mind today’s unfortunate incident shining on our club,” Turco said. “The way we did play, and focus, and played our game plan better than we have in a long time.”
Turco was at his best in the third period, making 15 saves as Calgary pressed for the tying goal.
“He had to make some very good saves for us. They’re a hard team around the net and Marty held his ground and played real well,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said.
The 33-year-old Turco, making his 13th straight start, had allowed 15 goals on 100 shots in his previous four games.
“He’s a guy that cares deeply about this team,” Tippett said. “He was trying to find his game by over-trying. Now he’s in there, doing what he does best, playing a strong game and giving our team a chance to win.”
Calgary outshot Dallas 37-22, and gave Turco full credit for the victory.
“Turco played well,” Flames forward Craig Conroy said. “Everyone was talking, ‘Well, he’s struggling, he’s struggling’ but he didn’t look like he was struggling to me.”
Loui Eriksson, with his team-leading 12th goal into an empty net, and Toby Petersen also scored for Dallas (9-11-4). The Stars climbed out of sole possession of last place in the Western Conference and pulled even with Edmonton and St. Louis.
David Moss scored the lone goal for the Flames, who had won five of six.
After the earlier controversy, the game had an anticlimactic feel without Avery. The teams combined for just five minor penalties, and Phaneuf’s only concern after the game was his team’s inability to generate offense.
“We put pucks to the net on a goalie that played well,” Phaneuf said. “If you don’t get traffic on him, you don’t get pucks there, you’re not going to score goals.
“It’s a frustrating game for our team.”
Dallas will wrap up its two-game road trip Wednesday night in Edmonton, without Avery.
The Stars struck first at 6:14 of the first period. Stephane Robidas had his shot kicked out by Kiprusoff, but the rebound into the slot landed right on the stick of Petersen, who put it in the open side.
The Flames tied it at 1:44 of the second when Moss jammed in Adrian Aucoin’s rebound just one second after Calgary’s lone power-play opportunity expired.
“We weren’t quite as sharp as we have been lately,” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, whose six-game point streak ended. “Maybe that’s part of not capitalizing on our scoring chances. I thought we could have had a few more. They played a good road game.”
The Flames killed all 19 power plays against them in the past seven games. … With no extra forwards available, Avery’s suspension forced Dallas to play seven defensemen. D Doug Jannik moved up to play on the fourth line. D Andrew Hutchinson saw his first action with the Stars since being acquired Sunday from Tampa Bay. … Dallas has earned points in 17 of 21 games against Calgary. … Calgary LW Curtis Glencross was blanked for the first time in five games (3 goals, 4 assists).