CALGARY — Third-period rallies were common place for the Calgary Flames one year ago. On Tuesday night, they went back to that old tactic.
Sean Monahan had the clinching goal in the shootout and two assists in regulation as the Flames overcame a three-goal, third-period deficit to beat the NHL-leading Dallas Stars 4-3.
Monahan’s goal was the last of three on Antti Niemi in the shootout with Joe Colborne and Johnny Gaudreau also finding the net.
“Games like this, it brings back the taste of last year, of those comebacks,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley. “The boys were having fun in the room. The music and everything. For me, that’s the best part of coaching and the best part of being in a team sport. You see those emotions, you see finally the rewards for hard work.”
Patrick Sharp scored in the shootout for the Stars, who were eliminated on Monahan’s goal because Tyler Seguin hit the post on Dallas’ initial shot.
Bolstered by a team-record 10 third-period comebacks, the Flames were a feel-good story a year ago, unexpectedly making the playoffs and then reaching the second round.
But this season, Calgary entered the night ranked 29th in the NHL, even in points with the last place Edmonton Oilers.
“Great team effort tonight,” said Gaudreau. “It was another one of those comebacks like last season where guys were showing a ton of effort until the final buzzer.”
Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said he could feel Calgary taking over the game in the second period. He said his club was lucky to be ahead 3-0 after 40 minutes.
“Give them full marks. The last 30 minutes, they were all over us,” Ruff said. “We got caught playing in our own end, dumping it out and they just kept coming at us. We didn’t skate well, we didn’t execute well and a couple of our reads on our last couple goals against weren’t very good.”
Gaudreau, Mikael Backlund and Dougie Hamilton scored in regulation for Calgary (9-14-2), which kicked off a five-game homestand with its fifth win in a row at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Jason Spezza, Cody Eakin and Mattias Janmark scored for the Stars (19-5-1), who are tied with Montreal for the most points in the NHL.
Backlund got the comeback started 1:51 into the third. He whacked the puck into Niemi’s pad three times before getting it up and over for his third goal of the season.
Seventy seconds later, Gaudreau hammered in a Monahan rebound.
The Flames tied it at 17:42 when Hamilton took a pass from Monahan, and ripped a wrist shot into the top corner, setting off an eruption from the home crowd.
“Mony had great vision there,” said Hamilton. “I found a little pocket and just happy my shot didn’t get blocked.”
The Flames held the high-scoring duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin off the scoresheet. Both players snapped eight-game scoring streaks.
“We just stopped playing hockey,” Benn said. “We knew they were a desperate hockey team over there, we knew they’ve got some firepower. It’s a pretty embarrassing loss.”
Janmark’s first goal in 18 games at 11:16 was the only goal of the second.
“Let’s be realistic. In the second period, we scored on one chance and I don’t think we had many others,” Ruff said. “They had some go off posts and they could have easily been back in the game.”
Monahan alone hit three goal posts that period.
Niemi finished with 29 stops to drop to 10-4-1. Ramo, who had 26 saves, improved to 7-8-1.