Flames’ winning streak up in smoke

Mike Ribeiro scored his first goal of the season 62 seconds into the game Friday night and the Dallas Stars never looked back.

Stars 5 Flames 2

CALGARY — Mike Ribeiro scored his first goal of the season 62 seconds into the game Friday night and the Dallas Stars never looked back.

Ribeiro had a goal and an assist as the Stars beat Calgary 5-2, ending the Flames’ season-opening four-game winning-streak.

“We took the lead and kept the lead,” said Ribeiro. “It’s the first game we’ve taken the lead, the other two games we’ve been chasing from behind.”

Surrendering a goal on his first shot made for a dubious debut for Calgary goaltender Curtis McElhinney, who made just six starts last season as Miikka Kiprusoff’s back-up and didn’t earn a win until the final night of the season.

“There’s always a bit of nervousness,” said McElhinney, who the Flames re-signed after being becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer. “I felt comfortable but unfortunately there were a few mistakes that I wish I could take back and that was the deciding factor in the game.”

Brian Sutherby, Tom Wandell, Loui Eriksson and Brad Richards, into an empty net, also scored for Dallas (1-0-2). The Stars wrap up their three-game road trip through Western Canada on Sunday night at GM Place in Vancouver.

Dion Phaneuf and Rene Bourque each scored their third goal for Calgary (4-1-0). The Flames fell short in their attempt to begin a season 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.

“We turned over a lot of pucks in the neutral zone and we made a lot of those cross-ice passes that got intercepted and we’ve got to get better at that,” said Bourque, who leads the Flames in scoring with seven points. “It was one of those nights where it was hard to get a lot of offence going.”

On the opening goal, a point shot from Stephane Robidas hit Flames defenceman Staffan Kronwall and bounced out to Ribeiro in the slot.

To his credit, McElhinney settled in after that, shutting out the Stars the rest of the period despite being peppered with 14 shots.

However, the second period started much like the first for the 26-year-old with Dallas again striking early on its first shot. This time it was Toby Petersen setting up Sutherby 55 seconds in.

Phaneuf’s power-play goal at 4:17 of the second put Calgary on the scoreboard, but Dallas regained a two-goal cushion five minutes later when Wandell’s harmless looking shot from the blue-line trickled past McElhinney.

“That third goal is the one that sticks out. It’s a puck that’s shot through a screen but it’s right at me and it hits my stick and ends up going up and over,” he said.

“Bottom line is I need to have that save, regardless of what the situation is.”

With Marty Turco getting the night off, Alex Auld made his first start for Dallas and was solid making 21 stops.

“I just wanted to make a good impression and the guys did a great job making my job pretty easy scoring goals early and every time (Calgary) seemed to get one, we answered right back,” said Auld.

In the second, Auld thwarted Fredrik Sjostrom on a partial breakaway to preserve the Stars’ two-goal lead.

“We realized the opportunity we had to beat a very good team,” said Auld. “We knew the situation that they played in Edmonton last night, an emotional win, they were riding high, and sometimes the tendency coming back home after a game like that is to have a bit of a lull and we were sitting here waiting and we were hungry for our first win.”

With Calgary trailing 3-1 in the third period of a mostly listless game, the energy in the sold-out Pengrowth Saddledome finally picked up after Bourque’s goal at 5:17.

However, Dallas quieted the crowd again at 9:25 when Eriksson deflected in Richards’ centring pass.

“It’s a tough situation, with back-up goalies and that second game. It’s not his fault,” said Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester. “It’s too bad that we couldn’t find a way to get a win for him because it’s a tough situation for him to come into.”

McElhinney’s workload will likely increase this season. Indications given by GM Darryl Sutter and head coach Brent Sutter prior to the season was that he would play closer to 15 games this season.

Calgary’s power play continues to impress, going 2-for-4 against the Stars to improve to 7-for-15 through five games.

“My concern going into today was keeping our emotion and intensity after a big win last night; obviously we never played that way,” said Sutter.

The Flames return to action Monday night with a game in Chicago.

After rolling out the identical line-up for the first four games, the Flames were without left winger David Moss (lower body). Moss, tied for the team lead with two goals, was seen hobbling around after Thursday’s game in Edmonton and is considered day-to-day.

Notes: Eric Nystrom took his spot on the top line alongside Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen… Dallas C Warren Peters (shoulder) was activated from injured reserve and assigned to Texas (AHL)… Dallas D Mark Fistric made his first appearance taking the spot of Jeff Woywitka… Dallas has earned at least one point in 20 of its last 26 trips to Calgary (15-6-5)… Nystrom and Adam Pardy entered the game the Flames’ leaders in plus-minus (plus-5). Worst on the team was D Robyn Regehr at minus-6.

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