What seemed so right for the Dallas Stars coming into their game Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes turned all wrong.
You couldn't help the Stars for licking their collective chops when they arrived in the Valley of the Sun early Thursday morning after their big win over San Jose Wednesday night. After all, Dallas had won six straight in Phoenix and eight of nine overall, and were about to face a team that had lost a franchise-record six straight games at home.
But the Coyotes had other ideas as they pinned a 5-2 defeat on the Stars to capture just their second win at Jobing.com Arena this season. Despite the loss, the Stars remain in first place in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of idle San Jose and Anaheim.
Brenden Morrow and Stephane Robidas scored for Dallas, which had its two game winning streak snapped. The Stars fell to 4-2-1 on the road since losing their first two away from American Airlines Center, and are 2-1 on their current four-game west coast road trip.
"They are a hard working young team with a lot of energy and they outworked us, simple as that," Robidas said. "You won't win in this league without working, and we haven't been consistent in that."
Goalie Marty Turco, fresh off his brilliant 38-save performance over the Sharks, finished with 26 stops in his third straight start.
Steven Reinprecht scored twice and had an assist, Ed Jovanovski had a goal and two assists, and Mike York and Keith Ballard added a goal and an assist each for suddenly surging Phoenix, which has won five of its last seven after starting the year with a 2-5 mark.
Coyotes netminder Mikael Tellqvist made 24 saves to win his second straight over the Stars. Tellqvist shut-out the Stars six days ago in Dallas, 5-0.
"We have found ways to win lately but we've been putting a lot on the goalies' shoulders," Morrow said. "We did that again tonight, but just couldn't battle back. We just couldn't find a way to get it done, and it was a sloppy showing by us."
The Stars were mostly undone by one of the most reliable phases in their game lately, the penalty kill. Coming in, they had been able to eliminate 33 of their opponent's last 35 man advantage opportunities, but allowed the Coyotes to score on three of their six power-play chances.
"We were just chasing the game, and whoever took the lead would have a big advantage in tonight's game," coach Dave Tippett said. "When you start chasing, you are just looking for ways to generate offense and chances."
The Coyotes jumped out to a 1-0 lead when York converted on the power play, solving Turco on a bang-bang play with former Star Niko Kapanen with just 86 seconds left in the first period. From behind the net, Kapanen sent a quick pass to York, who was standing to the left of Turco. York's one-timer beat the Dallas netminder to the short side.
Dallas tied it 1:24 into the second period on Morrow's sixth of the season. Off the rush, the Stars created a 3-on-2 situation, with Jere Lehtinen carrying he puck into the Phoenix zone while in the middle of the ice. Lehtinen hit a streaking Morrow on the left wing, and the captain let go a wrist shot from a sharp angle inside the left circle that beat Tellqvist.
Phoenix grabbed the lead back at 4:16 of the second when Reinprecht was the beneficiary off Turco's misplay of a dump in. From just outside the Stars blueline, Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris shot the puck in hard around the boards. Turco came out to stop it behind the net, but the puck ricocheted off his stick and right to Reinprecht, who promptly deposited the puck into the empty net from the slot for another power-play tally.
Phoenix took a 3-1 lead just under two minutes later when Jovanovski ripped a slap shot from the left point that eluded Turco to the blocker side for his second of the year.
Dallas cut the lead to 3-2 on Robidas' first tally of the year three minutes into the third period. Robidas collected Phoenix defenseman Matt Jones' errant clearing attempt along the right boards, and quickly let go a shot that went past a stunned Tellqvist.
Reinprecht struck for his second of the game and fourth in his last two games to give the Coyotes their two-goal lead back 5 1/2 minutes later. From down low in the right circle, Turco made the original save on Reinprecht's wrist shot, but was unable to corral Reinprecht's backhanded rebound attempt.
Ballard capped the scoring with a power-play goal with just over six minutes left in regulation.
"These are tough division games that we need to be fully motivated toward every chance we get," Morrow said.
The Stars wrap-up their four-game road trip on Saturday when they head to southern California to play the Los Angeles Kings. This will be the third meeting between the two teams after they split the first two contests.
The Kings have been off since losing 3-1 on Nov. 3 to San Jose. They've won five of their last seven after opening the season 2-6, and are one of six teams in the Western Conference that have not lost a game in overtime or a shootout.
Faceoff from Staples Center is set for 9:30, and the game can be seen on my27.
--Dallas is now 1-4 when allowing the first goal, while Phoenix improved to 6-0 when scoring first.
--The Stars called up defenseman Nicklas Grossman from Iowa of the AHL prior to the game. He was inserted into the lineup in place of Mattias Norstrom, who sustained a facial laceration in Dallas' win over San Jose on Wednesday.
--Lehtinen's assist gave him 11 points in his last nine games.
--Robidas' goal was his first point of the season. Norstrom is now the only Dallas regular who hasn't picked up a point.
--Dallas has lost four of six since defeating Phoenix 5-3 on Oct. 27.
--These two teams won't meet again until February.
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