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TV: TXA 21, FS-Arizona (HD)
LAST 10: Dallas 5-4-1, Phoenix 7-2-1
Season Series: It's a split so far in terms of wins, though the Coyotes picked up a couple of extra points in shootout losses. The 'Yotes have also won the last two, one in each venue, outscoring the Stars 7-1 in the process.
Big Story: So what else is new? The Western Conference is tight and the Pacific Division is tighter. Opportunity for advancement abounds with the Sharks on a long road trip, the Kings treading water and the playoff picture changing by the day. The Coyotes are the hottest team in the division at the moment thanks to a 6-0-1 run, likely starter Mike Smith has a personal six-game winning streak after Thursday's 1-0 win in L.A. The Stars, though missing All-Star Jamie Benn for this one, want the hockey world to know they haven't given up on a run to the playoffs despite trading defenseman Nicklas Grossman to the Flyers on Thursday for a second-round pick this year and a third-rounder in 2013. A win in Phoenix would reinforce the message a bit.
Stars: One reason for the decrease in trade-deadline activity in recent years is that teams have tended to stay in contention longer in neck-and-neck races for points. This is where the Stars find themselves, and why general manager Joe Nieuwendyk told reporters not to look too deeply into Thursday's trade.
"This isn't an indication we're going to be sellers," he said. "This is an indication we're going to be active. ... We're trying to build something here that's not only a good product today but, more importantly, we want to contend for Cups like the Detroits, like the San Joses, not just bordering on the seven-through-12 area. We want to be a consistent team."
Consistency starts by stringing wins together, which the Stars have not done since sweeping the Ducks in a home-and-home to bridge the months of January and February, but have a chance to do after Thursday's 3-2 overtime win over the Flames.
Coyotes: Not too many teams can out-defend the Los Angeles Kings, who went into Thursday night's matchup two points ahead of the Coyotes in the Pacific Division despite being last in the League in goals scored. They get away with it by allowing the second-fewest goals in the NHL, but Smith has been hot enough to overcome even that. One puck sneaked by the two teams' clampdown defenses, Radim Vrbata's power play tally in the second period, and Smith made it stand up for the 1-0 win.
"We're deserving to win right now," Smith said. "At the start of the season, maybe we lost some games we didn't deserve to win. But right now we're finding ways to win, and we're doing it the right way. That makes it feel that much better."
Who's Hot: Smith is not only taking down all comers with two straight shutouts and an 0.99 goals-against average to back up his 6-0-0 stretch, he has a 4-0-3 record with a 1.95 career GAA against the team he began his career with five years ago. He's also started all four games against the Stars this season, allowing one goal in the last two. Ray Whitney had his eight-game points streak snapped by Vancouver on Monday, but picked up an assist on Vrbata's goal Thursday to give him points in nine of 10. Vrbata has points in seven of eight games, including goals in three of his last five. His 19 road goals lead the NHL. … Stars winger Adam Burish netted goals in back-to-back games for the first time since February 2009. His team is 10-2-0 when he scores. Mike Ribeiro scored his fourth game-winner of the season Thursday and picked up an assist on Steve Ott's power-play goal in the second period. The Stars are 7-1-0 when he has a multi-point game.
Injury Report: The dubious headliner is Benn, who was cut on the left leg by a skate early in the second period of Thursday's game. He'll definitely miss Saturday's matchup but may return Sunday at home against Nashville. Captain Brenden Morrow is expected to miss two more weeks as he continues to resolve shoulder, neck and back issues. Defenseman Sheldon Souray has been out the last four games after taking a puck to the foot last Thursday. He is still day-to-day. … On the Coyotes' side, Rostislav Klesla (upper body) left Thursday's game after being checked hard by Dustin Brown, while forward Taylor Pyatt (upper body) missed Thursday's game and is day-to-day. Defenseman Derek Morris missed his second straight game with the flu, and David Schlemko, originally written off for the season with foot surgery, could be back within a week to give the Coyotes an offensive boost from the blue line.
Stat Pack: The Stars are 11-5-0 when tied after one period and 15-6-3 in one-goal games, fifth-best in the NHL. … The Coyotes picked up four fighting major penalties -- three in the first period alone -- against the Kings, making up a third of their season total of 12. Their penalty kill is clicking, having snuffed out 16 straight opportunities overall and 14 of their last 15 against the Stars.
Puck Drop: "Guys had to step up for Jamie Benn being out of the lineup. Those are the fun playoff-type games you like to talk about. Points are so ridiculously close right now, we're scratching for any extra ones we can get. It was a tight, character game that we need to start putting together. We need to find a way to string wins together, and they're going to be tight and they're going to be tight checking. Hopefully we can continue to grab the ball running here." -- Steve Ott on how the Stars rallied to beat the Flames on Thursday.