Stars Overcome Rough Start, Beat Coyotes 4-1

The first period wasn’t pretty, but the Stars dominated the last two as they earn their first win in over a week

It might have been against the last place team in the NHL, but hey: a win’s a win.

After a rough first period where the Dallas Stars looked lost and out of place, the Stars were able to dominate the last 40 minutes of play and earn a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Kari Lehtonen proved to be the better backup goalie, stopping 17 or 18 shots as he faced off against Coyotes backup Scott Wedgewood, who stopped 21 of 24.

(Come to think of it, Scott Wedgewood’s sudden start over Antti Raanta was probably why the Stars started slow. Backup goalies are the Stars’ kryptonite, after all.)

After two disappointing losses against the Kings and Maple Leafs, the Stars will hopefully use this victory to re-energize themselves as they continue to push for a final playoff spot.

First Period

The game didn’t start too well for the Stars, who seemed a bit lost at times and kept coughing up the puck. Alexander Radulov drew an early tripping penalty by Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but the power play units didn’t accomplish much outside of a decent shot by Brett Ritchie. Shortly after the power play was over, Devin Shore turned the puck over to Christian Fischer, who sped down the ice and took a long shot on goal. One thing to another and a cross ice pass to Ex-Star Kevin Connauton led to a hard shot from the right side that went over Kari Lehtonen’s glove for the first goal of the night.

The Stars continued to have trouble with the puck, struggling multiple times to get out of the defensive zone and turning over the puck a couple more times. Eventually the Coyotes began having similar problems, and the two teams began trading the puck back and forth several times. Radek Faksa was sent to the box for a rather questionable tripping call, but the Stars managed to kill it off with only a couple small scares.

With 6:29 left in the period, Julius Honka earned a double minor for high sticking, sending the Coyotes back on the power play. The Stars killed off the first two minutes or so rather easily, and Jakob Chychrun got called for slashing against Tyler Pitlick with 1:50 to go. The 4 on 4 consisted of a lot of back and forth without too much action, though Chychrun did get a potential scoring opportunity when he recovered the puck shortly after getting out of the box. The period ended with a brief scuffle involving Jamie Benn and a few others, but nothing came out of it.

Shots: Dallas 5, Arizona 6
Score: Dallas 0, Arizona 1

Second Period

The Stars came out of the first intermission looking like a completely different team. Literally even, as the Benn-Seguin-Radulov line was reunited to take the opening faceoff. The Coyotes got an early 2 on 1 attempt but missed the net on the shot, and the Stars were able to take it into the offensive zone where a nice backpass by Jason Spezza almost led to a Devin Shore goal. The pair would soon redeem themselves, however: Spezza, who was behind the Coyotes’ goal, managed to bounce a puck over the net towards Shore, who speared it out of mid-air and into the net for the Stars’ first of the night.

By this point the Stars were firmly spending the majority of their time in the offensive zone, and an interference penalty by Kevin Connauton about five minutes in led to a Dallas Stars power play. It didn’t take too long for the team’s top unit to get a trio of chances, the third of which was a Tyler Seguin snipe from the slot that put the Stars into the lead. Seguin would later get another chance on a 1v1 rush on the side, but he was stopped by Wedgewood.

The Stars continued to put the pressure on Arizona, and eventually drew another penalty about halfway through the second. Only 30 seconds in, the Stars set up a beautiful series of passes from Radulov to Klingberg to Seguin to Benn, who was able to hammer the puck home after a couple tries in front of the net. The Coyotes challenged for offsides, however, and succeeded, and the powerplay ended with a couple quality chances yet no goal.

But Dallas refused to relent, and not long later Mattias Janmark showed the patience of a saint as he held onto the puck even as he approached the goal line in the right corner, at which point he fired a shot that slipped between Wedgewood’s legs and into the Arizona net to put the Stars up by 2.

Tyler Seguin was sent to the box for High Sticking with about 2:30 left in the period, but the Stars killed off the penalty with ease. They even got a stunning shorthanded 2 on 1 breakaway towards the end with Pitlick and Faksa, but Pitlick wasn’t able to finish. When Seguin came out of the box, Jason Dickinson made an excellent pass to the forward who then got on a breakaway, but Wedgewood stonewalled him when he tried to slide the puck through the five-hole. The period soon came to an end, and Dallas returned to the locker room with surely much happier about their performance.

Shots: Dallas 22, Arizona 10
Score: Dallas 3, Arizona 1

Third Period

After such an entertaining twenty minute stretch, the beginning of the third period was bit disappointing. It mostly consisted of some back and forth play by the two teams, with no shots for the first few minutes. About five minutes in, Mattias Janmark got sent to the box on a potentially questionable hooking call against Derek Stepan. The Coyotes began the power play with a decent setup in the offensive zone and a couple of quality chances, but the Stars cleared the puck and proceeded to kill off the rest of the penalty with relative ease.

They would have to go right back on the penalty kill, however, as Jamie Benn was sent to the box for cross checking about a minute or so later. The Coyotes again get a couple of decent chances, including an Ekman-Larsson shot that was blocked by Tyler Pitlick, but the Stars hold strong. A large altercation in front of Lehtonen’s net leads to offsetting roughing minors for Esa Lindell and Clayton Keller as well as a slashing minor for Max Domi, and the two teams played a bit of 4 on 4. Kari is forced to stop a shot from Ex-Star Alex Goligoski and stretch his legs back to stop a shot off the rebound, and Jamie Benn eventually gets out of the box and the Stars got on the power play.

Nothing really happened with those 50 seconds, though, and when the Stars got back on the power play with about 7 minutes left thanks to Jakob Chychrun tripping Jason Dickinson, they had still not managed a single shot on net in the third period (showcasing their stellar “turtling” skills). Kari Lehtonen gave fans a heart attack early in the power play as he went to the boards to play a puck and prevent a potential breakaway, but the Coyotes were able to recover the puck with a wide open net. Thankfully the Stars were able to turn the puck over and clear it out, preventing a potential shorthanded goal.

The power play ended without much more fanfare, and the Coyotes began to get more and more aggressive on offense. With a little more than 2 minutes left in the game, they pulled Wedgewood for the extra skater, but it was to no avail: Esa Lindell tried to clear the puck at one point and the rubber bounced off the glass and glided straight into the middle of the Coyotes net, sealing their fate.

Final Shots on Goal: Dallas 25, Arizona 18

Final Score: Dallas 4, Arizona 1