DALLAS — After bungling a breakaway in a previous game, Johnny Gaudreau made no mistake on his penalty shot.
Elias Lindholm and Rasmus Andersson also scored and Mikael Backlund added an empty-net goal for the Flames, which generated three unanswered goals before Dallas countered in the third period.
Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves for the win in another goaltending duel with Dallas counterpart Jake Oettinger, who stopped 50 shots in the loss.
Tyler Seguin scored the Stars’ lone goal.
The best-of-seven series returns to Calgary for Wednesday’s Game 5 at the Saddledome, where the Flames went 25-9-7 in the regular season.
Game 6 is Friday back in Dallas and a Game 7, if necessary, would be Sunday in Calgary.
“It’s nice to get that win, but I think the momentum is we’re going home and playing in front of our fans,” Gaudreau said. “Now it’s a three-game series.”
Calgary (50-21-11) topped the Pacific Division and ranked sixth in the NHL in the regular season. The No. 15 Stars (46-30-6) entered the post-season as the first wild card in the Western Conference.
The Flames won 1-0 and lost 2-0 at the Saddledome before the Stars doubled Calgary 4-2 in Game 3 at American Airlines Center.
When a best-of-seven series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 holds an all-time series record of 219-58 (. 791), according to NHL statisticians.
The Flames trailed by a goal late in Saturday’s Game 3 when a streaking Gaudreau couldn’t elevate the puck over Oettinger’s pad with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
He was hooked on a breakaway by Stars defenceman John Klingberg to get the penalty shot Monday.
With more time to plot his moves Monday, the winger stretched Oettinger out with a backhand and scored five-hole at 7:47 of the third period.
“Since Game 1, I felt I’d been playing well, playing hard against this team. The results weren’t there,” Gaudreau said. “Last game had a breakaway with two minutes left. Wanted that one back. Tonight, a different story. Found the net.”
After nearly 16 minutes of four-on-four over the second and third games of the series, more even-strength hockey was played in Game 4.
That favoured Calgary, ranked sixth in the NHL in even-strength goals.
The Flames generated more sustained offensive-zone pressure than Dallas.
“I think we had around 50 shots and we had a lot of long shifts in their zone,” Andersson said. “We didn’t take too many penalties tonight too, so we get to play five on five and that’s where we’re a really good team.”
Lindholm produced just the Flames’ third even-strength goal in the series at 11:53 of the third period for a 3-0 Calgary lead.
Gaudreau from the boards fed him at the hash marks where Lindholm beat Oettinger with a low wrist shot for his third of the series.
Dallas replied with a power-play goal to cut the deficit. Seguin’s wrist shot off the rush beat Markstrom far side at 15:03.
Calgary had outshot Dallas in each of the first three games, but was held to just three goals and two of them even-strength.
A tenacious Stars’ defence in front of their crease continued to deny Calgary second chances on the few rebounds Oettinger did allow, but the Flames continued to hammer at the Dallas defence until cracks appeared.
It took a five-on-three goal at 9:41 of the second period for the Flames to break through Monday.
Andersson’s slap shot from just above the hashmarks beat Oettinger high-stick side after Stars Jani Hakanpaa (tripping) and Radek Faksa (high-sticking) were penalized within a 12-second span.
Markstrom and Oettinger traded heroics throughout the game.
Dallas turned the puck over deep in their zone late in the second period, but Oettinger batted away a Gaudreau attempt from close range.
“I told the coaches after the game that we just wasted a great goaltending performance,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said.
“Their guy made some big saves. Otter was outstanding and so that’s why it was 1-0 going into the third.”
Markstrom repelled Stars’ forward Tyler Seguin driving to his doorstep four minutes into the period. Calgary outshot the hosts 19-8 in a goal-free first period and held a 39-23 margin after two.
Oettinger denied Calgary’s Tyler Toffoli a golden chance on a rebound in the first period. A prone Oettinger gloved Toffoli’s attempt to lift the puck over the sprawling Stars’ goalie at 9:14.
Gaudreau missed a few shifts early in the game. His head appeared to whiplash when he and Vladislav Namestnikov collided shoulder to shoulder in the Stars’ zone.
Gaudreau went to the dressing room, but was back on the ice by the midpoint of the first period.
“I’m all right,” he said.
Flames head coach Darryl Sutter swapped forward Brett Ritchie for defenceman Michael Stone to deploy 11 forwards and seven defencemen Monday.
Sutter wanted reinforcements on the back end. He felt the toll of defenceman extra minutes in the series opener, when Andersson took a game misconduct at the first-period buzzer, was beginning to surface in the series.
“We wanted some fresh legs back there,” the coach said.