CALGARY – Still seeking his first goal of the season, Michael Cammalleri felt he was rounding into form before suffering a slightly torn hip flexor that forced him out of the Calgary Flames' lineup for three games.
He didn't hesitate to make up for lost time.
Cammalleri had a hat trick – including the 200th goal of his career – as part of a four-point night as the Flames earned a 7-4 victory against the Dallas Stars at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday night.
"A great coach I had once told me it's not like a faucet," Cammalleri said. "You can't just turn it on and off, so it's about trying to keep working at things and doing things the right way and then things eventually start working the way you want them to, and I think that's kind of been indicative of our whole group -- not just me."
The loss snaps Dallas' four-game winning streak, while ending Calgary's two-game skid.
Stars coach Glen Gulutzan wasn't satisfied with his team's performance in the loss.
"We were soft. We were soft in the beginning, soft with our sticks, soft with our play," Gulutzan said. "I thought they played a solid game, but I didn't think they came guns a blazing. I thought we were just soft."
Scoring just two goals in back-to-back losses, the Flames wasted little time igniting their offense against Richard Bachman and the Stars.
After Bachman kicked out Cammalleri's initial shot, Jay Bouwmeester jumped on a loose puck in the rebound scramble and put it in the back of the net just 3:11 into the game.
After an incredible save by Calgary starter Leland Irving, the Flames added another.
Turning the puck over in their end while with the man-advantage, Irving was forced to make a diving paddle save. Heading up ice, Jiri Hudler finished a tic-tac-toe setup by Alex Tanguay and Dennis Wideman for the power-play marker at 6:44.
Cammalleri -- with his first of the year -- and former Flames' first-round pick Eric Nystrom exchanged goals before Calgary added its fourth before the period was out.
Keeping the puck in at the point, TJ Brodie worked the puck down to Tanguay, who found Roman Cervenka in the slot for his second career NHL goal with 2:42 remaining to give Calgary a 4-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
The teams traded three goals in the opening four minutes of the second period.
It sparked Cammalleri and the Flames.
Cammalleri, with his second of the night, restored the three-goal lead at 3:23. After a miscue in front of the Flames' net, Morrow poked his second under the glove and behind Irving to make it 5-3 just 24 seconds later.
Jamie Oleksiak, the tallest player in Stars' history (6-foot-7), recorded an assist on the play for his first career NHL point.
The Stars tried to claw their way back into the game early in the third.
Dallas had ample opportunity to climb to within one with eight minutes remaining. After stopping Jamie Benn's original shot from the slot, Irving managed to deny Jagr on the doorstep to preserve the two-goal lead. Eakin, looking for his second of the night, saw his shot with just under six minutes remaining blockered away by the Flames' goaltender.
"It just was that kind of game, up-and-down hockey," Jagr said. "We had no other choice to do it because we were down right away but every time we scored, they answered right away. We couldn't get it back. The best we could get back was two goals but every time we scored, they did. They just answer right away.
Rebounding in the third to stop 13 of 14 shots was big for his confidence, Irving felt.
"It was a battle for me through two periods," Irving said. "I felt sharp at times but I just didn't track it great through two periods but it felt good to just give the guys a chance in the third period."
Cammalleri hit the back of an empty net with 1:26 remaining in the game to complete the hat trick.
"I think a little bit of an offensive swagger always helps, a little bit of a confidence, a little bit of a feeling the puck's coming to you," Cammalleri said. "I think as a group you want to build something like this and make that expectation, not that you're going to score seven goals every night, but that we're capable of breaking games when we want to."