Stars’ Radulov scores game-winner over Flames
CALGARY, Alberta — Alexander Radulov got the winning goal Friday, then thanked his goalie for the victory.
Radulov, who signed as a free agent from Montreal in the summer, potted a late third-period power-play goal to lift the Dallas Stars to a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday, snapping a two-game losing skid.
Kari Lehtonen made just his second start in goal for the Stars and had a strong night, stopping 29 shots.
“(Kari) was there for us today,” said Radulov. “He was huge at some points in the game. Thank you to him. We all know he’s a good goalie. Doesn’t matter who is playing. You’ve just got to be strong for the team and strong for the group and just try to find a way to win the hockey game.”
Lehtonen lost his starting job when the Stars picked up Ben Bishop in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings in the summer. Bishop has made nine starts and Lehtonen is now forced to watch most nights after being the No. 1 man for several years.
“It was big for me,” he said. “I hadn’t played much and now I was able to get a chance and of course you want to do well and help the team. That’s nice.
“Everything’s hard. It’s hard to play every night. It’s hard to play once in two weeks. You just have to go out there with a fresh mind and believe in your abilities as a goalie.”
Radulov took a long cross-ice pass from Devin Shore and beat Smith with a wrist shot with 7:10 remaining. It was Dallas’s second power play goal of the night.
Defenseman Esa Lindell also scored for Dallas (6-5-0). Johnny Gaudreau replied for Calgary (5-6-0).
The Stars now have the top power play in the league with a 32.4 percent efficiency. They have scored on eight of 18 road opportunities, including three on Thursday in a loss in Edmonton.
“The power play is good, but we’ve got to start scoring 5-on-5,” Radulov said.
“That’s a really big thing right now with our team. We’re working on it and we’re trying. We need one of those lucky bounces maybe, but we’ve got to work for it.”
Calgary has lost four of their past five games and are 1-4 at home. They have given up two power play goals in each of their past three games.
“Five-on-five in our last three games we’ve given up two goals so our penalty kill and power play needs to start helping us,” Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan said.
“We are a little passive. That’s what happens when you get scored on you become unsure of yourself. We have to find that mojo back here (at home) to kill penalties.”
Smith made his 10th start of the season for Calgary and had 22 stops.
Lehtonen was strong in the opening period and held off a flurry late in the period when Calgary’s fourth line threatened on a two-on-one involving Tanner Glass and Troy Brouwer that saw Lehtonen make two big saves.
Gaudreau scored his third goal of the season at 10:19 of the second, keeping the puck on an odd-man rush and roofing a shot over Lehtonen’s glove.
The league’s second-best power play struck on their second man advantage late in the second period. Lindell’s shot from the point beat Smith through a crowd at 16:54.
Lehtonen kept it tied when he stopped Mikael Backlund on a short-handed breakaway late in the period.
The Flames are left mystified why they are better on the road then they are at home.
“Maybe we kept it a little more simple on the road,” Backlund said. “We played well tonight and I thought we played well against Minnesota (last Saturday). We obviously want to win at home. At least last two games we’ve played well.”
NOTES: RW Jaromir Jagr skated Friday morning and is scheduled to come off injured reserve in time to play at home Sunday against the Washington Capitals. The 45-year-old suffered an undisclosed lower body injury Oct. 21. “He’s real close,” Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan said. ... Calgary’s healthy scratches were C Freddie Hamilton, C Curtis Lazar and D Brett Kulak. ... Dallas remains without D Stephen Johns because of a concussion. Their healthy scratches were D Julius Honka and LW Remi Elie. ... Stars LW Jamie Benn entered the night with the third best points-per-game average against Calgary among active players. His 1.12 is right behind Chicago’s Patrick Kane (1.21) and St. Louis’s Paul Stastny (1.16). His 15 goals in 26 career games against the Flames is his most against any team.