Stars hope to party like it's 1999 against Flames

DALLAS -- On Friday night, the Dallas Stars will raise Jere Lehtinen's No. 26 to the rafters at American Airlines Center, honoring the longtime fan favorite from the 1999 Stanley Cup champions who spent his entire NHL career in Dallas.

Like that '99 team, the Stars are again coached by Ken Hitchcock. And Dallas would like to honor Lehtonen by defeating the Calgary Flames, who are 6-3-1 on the road.

But the Stars (11-10-1) enter this game after their latest disappointing road showing. Dallas lost 3-0 on Wednesday at Colorado, its first time being shut out this season.

That loss to the Avalanche put the Stars 1-6-0 against the rest of the Central Division.

Dallas is now 3-8-1 on the road compared with an 8-2-0 record on home ice.

"I think there's a different body language in the team between home and away, and that's something we got to change here," Hitchcock said after the loss at Colorado. "If we're going to make the playoffs, we're going to have to be better, obviously, on the road and we're going to have to change a little bit of the thinking and the mindset."

At Pepsi Center on Wednesday, the Stars trailed 1-0 after one period and it appeared that's where the game would be at the second intermission. However, Colorado won a faceoff in the final ticks of the second and Nail Yakupov beat Ben Bishop from the high slot to make it 2-0 with one second left in the period.

It was the sort of back-breaking goal that simply can't happen, especially on the road, according to Stars captain Jamie Benn.

"Well, I think it's pretty obvious, just lost a faceoff and it ends up in the back of your net. Something that definitely can't happen, that's a tough one to give up at the end of a period going into the third," Benn said.

The Dallas players had Thursday off for Thanksgiving, but the Stars still made several personnel moves, recalling defenseman Julius Honka from AHL Texas while reassigning goaltender Mike McKenna and forward Curtis McKenzie to the AHL.

Honka was up for Tuesday's home win over Montreal but didn't play and was sent back to the AHL on Wednesday morning as McKenzie, who was a healthy scratch against Colorado, was recalled.

McKenna was recalled from the AHL on Monday to serve as Bishop's backup with Kari Lehtonen away from the team for personal reasons.

Lehtonen and his wife welcomed a son to the world earlier in the week, and the Stars' No. 2 netminder has returned to his customary role as Bishop's backup.

Calgary (12-8-1) is 7-2-1 in its past 10 games, but the Flames also enter Friday's game off a loss, 1-0 in overtime at Columbus on Wednesday.

In that game, goaltender Mike Smith, a former Star, turned away 40 of 41 shots but still took the loss when the Blue Jackets scored during the three-on-three overtime.

"To be honest, we got what we deserved," Smith said postgame. "We didn't deserve to win that game, I didn't think. I thought tonight (Wednesday) we wanted to play an easy game and they (the Blue Jackets) are too good a team to have to play that against."

Flames coach Glen Gulutzan, who coached the Stars for two seasons (2011-12 and 2012-13), saw plenty of valuable lessons to take away from that loss to the Blue Jackets.

"A lot of our stuff was self-inflicted. We need to learn from these types of games and that's how you grow, you learn from playing the good teams," Gulutzan said.

Dallas and Calgary have already played once this season, a 2-1 victory for the Stars at Scotiabank Saddledome on Oct. 27.

Friday's game will be the third of a four-game road trip that will also take the Flames to Colorado to face the Avalanche on Saturday to finish out both the trip and the back-to-back.

Calgary is 1-0-1 thus far on the trip and Smith has seen several positives, but the veteran netminder also knows the Flames have plenty of room for improvement if they are to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season under Gulutzan.

"We are giving up too many chances. We're creating at a high level. We need to embrace more puck protection, winning the lines, playing more north-south. We need to embrace those things if we're going to take another step in our development," Smith said.

"We took that step last season. We still seem to be stuck in that same place of giving up too much and a lot of that's self-inflicted. That's the step we need to take as a group."

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