Defiance in the Desert, Stars Score 4 Unanswered Goals, Win 4-2 Against Coyotes

Happy 400th game to John Klingberg!

Fresh off last night’s win, the Dallas Stars visited Arizona and the Arizona Coyotes today for their last game of 2019 ahead of New Year’s Day and the Winter Classic.

Last night, at home against the Colorado Avalanche, the Stars rallied in the third period after an incredibly disappointing second frame to win 3-2 in the shootout. The Coyotes were also on the second half of a back-to-back tonight, having lost 4-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday in Nevada. Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta was pulled after giving up four goals on 16 shots, so he was clearly looking to regain some pride tonight.

Fortunately for him, the Stars.

First Period

Newest Coyote Taylor Hall scored his second as a Coyote on a frenetic shift that found the Stars caught in their own end. This is something we’ll get out of the way early: the Stars were caught in their own end on many, many occasions tonight.

Jamie Oleksiak lost the battle for the puck in the corner and didn’t get back into position before Conor Garland and Taylor Hall connected to get the puck behind Anton Khudobin.

The Stars have the ability to play a heavy hockey game, and the Coyotes certainly brought that out in them tonight. It started when Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson threw a blind side hit on Jamie Benn, sending him to the ice and then slowly back to the bench. Several players entered a scrum in defense of the captain and Ekman-Larsson ended up in the penalty box with an interference call.

Later, Taylor Hall reminded the entire hockey world about his previous suspension for a knee-on-knee collision by kneeing Mattias Janmark, whose knees in previous seasons have proven to be vulnerable.

For reasons known only to those playing the game and those who had it explained to them on the bench, this was not assessed any penalty. Janmark was slow to get up and left the game for the rest of the period, though he was out again shortly after the beginning of the second frame.

In another period of extensive play in the Stars zone, Conor Garland threw the puck on net from an impossible angle and banked it in off of Anton Khudobin’s shoulder.

And then, not to be outdone by the entire Avalanche roster, Esa Lindell had a delay of game penalty with 24 seconds left in the period.

Second Period

A bit of excitement to start the second as Jamie Benn started the period back in the locker room. Thankfully, it was just an equipment issue and he was out shortly after the start of the period, along with Janmark, who skated and looked strong in the second period.

Just under three minutes into the second frame, Oleksiak laid Derek Stepan out behind the Stars net. Stepan did not have his head up but was eligible to be hit at the time. The contact was shoulder to arm, even with the height difference, but Stepan did go down and was slow to get up. Stepan took a high stick in last night’s game and was wearing a full cage tonight as an added safety precaution. He was out the rest of the night after this hit.

The referees, despite this being a legal hit, called a five minute major initially. They then reviewed the play and reduced it to a minor interference call. It wasn’t interference, and it wasn’t a dirty hit, but they had their hands tied by the new rule that went into effect this year:

Oddly enough, there were no roughing calls on Arizona’s side for several players who threw punches with no retaliation from Stars players.

The two minute penalty kill went well for the Stars, and Oleksiak had a quality scoring chance upon leaving the box, but got denied by Raanta.

At the halfway mark in this game, the Stars only had 8 shots on goal. According to our friends at, more than half of those shots were in the high danger zone in front of the net, so the good news is that they were quality chances. But since there were only 8 total, that’s just grasping at positive straws.

In this increasingly chippy game, Jason Demers took a late roughing penalty against Alexander Radulov, but nothing came of that power play either.

Third Period

The third period, in total, went much, much better for the Stars. The final shot count was still 25-35 in favor of the Coyotes, but from the first intermission until the end of the game, the Coyotes only had 13 shots on net to the Stars’ 20.

Also, the Stars scored four unanswered goals.

The first was courtesy of the captain, Jamie Benn. He won a face off in the Coyotes zone cleanly, skated forward to the net, got the pass from Tyler Seguin and went backhand into the goal.

Backhand is apparently  his new favorite.

Phil Kessel, who had a pretty quiet game, all told, reminded everyone that he existed by slashing at Blake Comeau’s stick until it broke in two pieces. That’s a penalty every time so what he was trying to accomplish there remains a mystery.

The second goal of the period came courtesy of Alexander Radulov, who scored off a beautiful backhand pass from Andrej Sekera.

Despite having his ice time cut the most under Rick Bowness, Roope Hintz reminded everyone why he was one the pre-made Winter Classic jersey options by scoring the third goal of the period. John Klingberg carried the puck behind the net and passed it to Denis Gurianov in the corner. Raanta bit hard to that side of the ice and no one was covering Hintz, who got the pass from Gurianov and had a wide open net.

Janmark put a button on the game with an empty netter to round everything out.

It was an ugly win for the Stars who had a very rough two periods of hockey before their break out. The Coyotes are a new team with new blood and their next meeting in two months time should be interesting.

The Stars are at home, but not their normal rink on Wednesday for the Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl Stadium. Puck drop is scheduled for 1 PM CT.