Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ Phoenix Coyotes (7:00pm CST)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas is 1-13-2 in the second night of back-to-back sets dating back to the beginning of last season. They try to break the curse once again tonight in Phoenix.

On the ropes and fading quickly in the unkind environment that is a 48-game NHL season, the Dallas Stars needed to respond on home ice in front of fans searching for a reason to continue believing. They came up with a big two points and a very entertaining 4-3 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes, and now must face them once more as the home-and-home series shifts to Arena.

Shootout goals from Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr helped the Stars avoid what could have been a fifth straight loss, and getting off the slide has to be huge for the team's confidence.

"This game gets mental and the win helps for our belief," opined Glen Gulutzan after the win. "But as our belief increases, our game has to get tidied up at the same token."

Dave Tippett liked what he saw from his squad, who played their defensive game and waited the game out to a shootout as they often do, but would like to see more from them on home ice.

"I thought our team hung around the game, competed really hard and gave ourselves a chance to win but in the end gave a point up," said the former Dallas-Stars-bench-boss. "We'll take that point, put it in the bank but we go home tomorrow. On home ice, we need two points tomorrow."

Both teams raced to the airport to make for The Valley of the Sun so they can do it all over again tonight at 7:00pm CST on Fox Sports Southwest.

The Stars:

Dallas got contributions from the fourth line and the defense last night en-route to three even strength tallies, but the team knows they need more from their key offensive pieces.

"Still room for improvement as far as offensively and putting more shots on that and creating more zone time," said Gulutzan last night. "Still looking for some chemistry early in the season. Guys playing together and just getting on the same page. We got a lot of new parts and we've got to come together quickly."

Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr displayed dynamite chemistry in the overtime period but have yet to combine for an even strength goal along with Loui Eriksson since Benn re-joined the team. With last change on home ice, Dave Tippett will use his defensively postured lineup to make it even harder for the trio to break through.

Tom Wandell, Philip Larsen and Aaron Rome were all healthy scratches last night, and it's unclear at this point who Gulutzan might re-insert to get fresh legs. Any one of them could be a candidate.

Last night the lineup was:



Last night Brenden Dillon recorded an assist, his first NHL goal, and a fight on the night - Called by some a "Gordie Howe hat trick." According to Stars PR, the last Dallas player to record one was Brenden Morrow in 2006, and Dillon is the first Dallas defenseman ever to register the trio of stats on the same night.

Richard Bachman could get the start tonight in net. Watch DBD for confirmation.

The Coyotes:

The Stars traded chances with the Coyotes at a fairly even rate, but could not contain one man: Martin Hanzal. The big first line center scored two of the Coyotes' three goals and created the traffic in front of Kari Lehtonen on the other. If Dave Tippett is able to unleash Hanzal against more favorable matchups then the Stars will have their hands full once again trying to defend him, or worse.

Kyle Chipchurra received a game misconduct for instigating last night and coach Tippett didn't like the extra minutes it forced his guys to play as a result.

"When you've got back to back games like this, having a guy sitting in the box for 17 minutes is not ideal," said Tippett. "I thought, when you look at the tape, that their guy through the first punch. I understand distance and travel and allthat stuff that they're talking about, but that's just not the way I saw it. But it is what it is, and we just have to get ready for tomorrow night."

Phoenix could get reinforcements in the forms of Rostislav Klesla and Steve Sullivan, both valuable veterans who missed Friday night's game.



Even before the incident with Dillon Dave Tippett utilized his fourth line very, very sparingly. He rode his other three lines hard and it remains to be seen if that will slow them down at all tonight at Arena.

Mike Smith just played his first game back from injury in Dallas. Fresh legs (knees?) could afford him the opportunity to start back to back, but Jason LaBarbera could be in line for the start as Smith's understudy.

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