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The Coyotes blocked more than 20 Dallas shots and killed off a third-period 5-on-3 as they snapped the Stars brief winning streak. Jamie Benn was also injured in the loss.
Here's how it happened in Glendale...
The Stars and Coyotes traded zone time to start the game. But the Stars weren't able to turn their time into many shots on Mike Smith, and they didn't generate many great scoring chances on six total shots.
The Coyotes did much of the same for most of the period, but a special play from defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson made the difference. Ekman-Larsson made a wide spin move just inside the Dallas blue line to create space, then found and open Antoine Vermette below the goal line. Vermette banked the puck in off a charging Shane Doan to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead.
One of the reasons the Coyotes were so successful at stifling the Stars offense was their shot blocking. The Coyotes blocked nine Stars shots compared to the six on net and one missed shot in the period.
The Coyotes carried the momentum they'd gained from the end of the first into the start of the second, dominating the zone time and the scoring chances. Lehtonen again had to be sharp in order for the Stars to keep the game close.
And just as Dallas had started establishing some zone presence of its own, a bad mistake from Matt Fraser took any momentum they'd had away. Fraser, attempting to help win a battle behind the Stars net, muffed his first clearing attempt, then put his second directly onto the stick of one of the Coyotes, who found a wide-open Rob Klinkhamer to the left side of the net. Klinkhammer made no mistake for his first career NHL goal.
Like the previous two games against the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings, the Stars picked up some steam as the period rolled along, and they earned a pair of power players out of their zone time. The second turned into an extended 5-on-3 after David Moss shot the puck into the stands. And even though the Stars looked slow and stationary for the first half, a timeout led to a Jaromir Jagr wrist-shot snip to the glove side of Mike Smith.
Cody Eakin started the period in the box after being caught holding the stick near the end of the second, and Jamie Oleksiak followed him to the box a few minutes later after extending the stick on a breaking Coyotes forward. The special teams time limited the Stars ability to create chances early.
The Stars got some special teams breaks of their own midway through the period, earning a second extended 5-on-3 after Antoine Vermette shot the puck out of play. But while the Stars group of Jagr, Jamie Benn, Erik Cole, Loui Eriksson and Stephane Robidas held the zone, they were unable to generate a flurry of scoring chances. The Coyotes filled the shooting lanes admirably, and the Stars never got much going around Smith.
In fact, the Coyotes continued to block shots through the tail end of the game.
The biggest loss for Dallas may have come with just over a minute left as Jamie Benn took a high hit from Martin Hanzal. Benn went down and immediately left the ice under his own power.
A few more thoughts on this disappointing loss:
- Oleksiak has looked a lot more confident in the offensive zone in the last few games, although he has yet to be rewarded for it.
- Whereas the Stars came out quite strong against the Los Angeles Kings Thursday night, they didn't have the same jump tonight. They started off slow and sluggish, with barely any pressure in the offensive zone for most of the first period for the Stars.
- Jagr extended his goal scoring streak to four straight games, his longest of the season so far.
- Matt Fraser was the victim of an unfortunate clearing attempt that lead to the eventual game winning goal. He went behind the net and shot it out into the circle to the left of Lehtonen, which gave Boyd Gordon the perfect pass to Rob Klinkhammer for his first goal at the NHL level.
- There seem to be a lot of guys that score their first goal of the season/NHL careers against Dallas this season.
- The second 5-on-3 opportunity was the golden chance for the Stars to tie the game up, but Dallas just couldn't capitalize. Phoenix laid down sticks and bodies into all of the lanes and collapsed around Smith to not allow much in the way of dangerous chances.
- Dallas played a fairly disciplined game, with only two minor penalties called against. They killed off both penalties. Their penalty issues seem to be trending in the right direction -- they've only allowed opposing teams four power play opportunities in the last three games.