Despite a five-game losing streak, fans in Calgary saw a chance, no matter how small, to keep their hopes alive. The Dallas Stars, on the other hand, continue to dance on a knife edge as they attempt to stay atop the Pacific division.
The Stars have been able to control the previous matchups between the two clubs this season, including a 4-1 victory in their last meeting, and they seemed to be getting off on the same foot when Jamie Benn charged up the boards in the opening minute of Monday's game before blasting a long wrist shot past Miikka Kiprusoff.
The Flames answered, however, thanks to a high-sticking call on Trevor Daley. The Calgary power play kept solid pressure on Kari Lehtonen and the Dallas PK before Lee Stempniak sent the puck off the far boards and over to Olli Jokinen, who hammered the puck home for his first point in eight games.
Benn broke the tie in the opening minute of the second period, scoring off a feed from Adam Burish, but the Flames charged back into the game thanks in no small part to the Stars putting themselves back on the penalty kill through much of the second period.
Blake Comeau started the rally for the Flames, jumping on a blind pass from Mike Ribeiro and snapping a quick wrist shot past an unprepared Lehtonen. The Flames pulled ahead briefly when Mike Cammalleri scored his 17th of the year at the side of the net thanks to a feed from Jarome Iginla, but Mike Ribeiro answered on a feed from Michael Ryder.
The Flames continued to look for a lead, and they found it with Stephane Robidas in the box for tripping. Mark Giordano fired a point shot that snuck through Lehtonen with seconds left in the penalty.
Steve Ott put the Flames back on the man advantage in the final minutes of regulation when he was called for tripping, and it was Alex Tanguay who cashed in with a one-timer to give the Flames a 5-3 lead going into the third period.
Philip Larsen scored his second goal of the season just past the five-minute mark to bring the Stars within a goal, but Kiprusoff and the Calgary defense locked down, grinding their way through regulation and closing out the game to bring themselves within one point of the final playoff seed in the West.