GLENDALE, Ariz. - Not lacking in the guts department despite being undermanned, the Dallas Stars just can't muster much glory as of late.
Petr Prucha scored 53 seconds into overtime, lifting the Phoenix Coyotes to a 6-5 win over the sliding Stars on Monday night at Jobing.com Arena.
The loss was particularly heartbreaking for a Dallas team that rallied with two goals in the final 5 1/2 minutes of regulation to send the game into the extra frame. But Prucha sent the Stars to their seventh consecutive loss (0-5-2) when he tapped in Shane Doan's cross-ice pass from in tight while the Coyotes were enjoying a 4-on-3 power play after defenseman Andrew Hutchinson tripped Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall.
Playing with no less than eight regulars because of injuries -- including freshly wounded defensemen Stephane Robidas (lower body), Mark Fistric (upper body) and Trevor Daley (lower body) -- Dallas garnered a point to move to within seven of eighth-place St. Louis in the Western Conference. The Stars, though, have the daunting task of needing to climb over three other teams over their final six games.
"I know we can't expect to give up six goals and expect to win," coach Dave Tippett said. "You are not going to win like that. Work ethic and desperation, goaltending…there are lots of factors. You can't give up that many chances and that many goals."
Garrett Stafford and Dan Jancevski, who were both recalled from their teams in the American Hockey League on Sunday after Robidas and Fistric went down in the loss to Florida on Saturday, were paired together, with Stafford picking up his first two points of his NHL career in just his third NHL game.
Brendan Morrison and Chris Conner had a goal and assist each, and Hutchinson, Loui Eriksson and Darryl Sydor also scored for the Stars, who lost their fifth straight (0-4-1) on the road. Mike Ribeiro added three assists.
"You want to win every game you play and we obviously need points in this tough situation we are in," Eriksson said. "Of course we are missing some big guys, but we have to step up for each other and pick up some slack."
Tobias Stephan, making just his third appearance in his last 28 games and fifth start overall, finished with 27 saves in giving starter Marty Turco a break. Stephan appeared in five games for Bridgeport of the American Hockey League in February, going 4-0-1 with a sparkling 1.91 goals-against average.
"I was a little nervous," Stephan said. "I felt alright, but there is one little thing missing in my game. I feel like I'm getting in good position and that I'm really close, but we'll see what happens. I feel like I'm getting better and I'm hoping for another couple games to get a good feel. I'm still confident I can do the same things here that I did in those AHL games."
Stephan understandably began shaky, but gradually became more comfortable between the pipes. In the third period, he made a terrific pad save on Steven Reinprecht from point-blank range in the slot with 11 minutes to go, then made a solid stop on Prucha's backhand 3 minutes later off the rush to keep the score 4-3 in favor of the Coyotes.
But Upshall's wicked wrist shot from the top of the left circle whistled past Stephan to push the Coyotes' edge to 5-3 with 8:02 remaining in regulation. It was Upshall's second goal of the game, and it looked like curtains for the injury-riddled Stars.
Conner, though, cut the deficit to 5-4 with his third of the year with 5:26 left, wristing a shot past Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov after being sent on a breakaway by a long feed from Morrison.
Dallas dramatically tied the game at 5-5 with 57.4 seconds when Sydor's slap shot from the right point eluded Bryzgalov, who was pre-occupied with Eriksson standing just inches from the crease. The goal came with Stephan off the ice for the extra attacker.
"We got it in the zone and Sydor was able to get it in," Eriksson said. "It was a good goal and got us to overtime."
Enver Lisin also had a pair of goals, and Doan contributed another for the Coyotes. Prucha added a couple of helpers as well.
Bryzgalov finished with 18 saves.
With the Coyotes leading 2-1 after 20 minutes, Dallas tied it just 1:16 into the second period on Hutchinson's second goal of the year. His blast from the middle of the blue line appeared to deflect off a Phoenix defenseman in front before squirting through Bryzgalov.
But the tie was short-lived, as Doan put Phoenix up 3-2 just 31 seconds later. From the top of the left circle, Doan's one-timer went in when it changed direction after ricocheting off Jancevski for his 29th goal of the year.
Lisin then notched his second of the game and 12th of the season 4:31 into the second to make it 4-2. Standing all alone in front of the net, Lisin accepted Viktor Tikhonov's pass from behind the goal line before calmly elevating the puck over Stephan.
Eriksson cut the lead in half with his team-leading 34th of the year on the power play with 4:49 left in the middle frame. Standing in the slot, Eriksson deftly deflected Matt Niskanen's shot from the point to make it 4-3.
Morrison gave the Stars an early 1-0 lead with his 14th of the season -- and fourth as a member of the Stars -- just 2:04 into the game. Standing at the bottom of the right circle, Morrison was able to chip the puck over Bryzgalov's right shoulder after Stafford's shot went off the end boards before being collected by Conner.
The goal snapped Bryzgalov's 127 minute, 4 second shutout sequence against Dallas.
Upshall got the equalizer on the power play just under 6 minutes later with his 11th. Upshall converted Matthew Lombardi's pass from the left circle while standing at the top corner of the crease, shoveling the puck under a sprawling Stephan.
Lisin gave the Coyotes their first lead of the game with 7:44 left in the first. Attempting to split the defense just inside the Stars blue line, Lisin pulled the puck to his forehand in the slot, but the puck inadvertently went off Nicklas Grossman's stick and slid harmlessly into the net after Stephan committed to Lisin's move.
The Stars will get right back at it Tuesday night when they play at the Los Angeles Kings (9:30, my27). The Kings defeated the Stars 1-0 in a shootout this past Thursday, with both Marty Turco and Jonathan Quick recording shutouts.
Four of Dallas' final six games will be on the road.
--The Stars have scored first in five of their last six games, but dropped to 21-10-4 when scoring first.
--Ribeiro has five points in his last two games, and has registered 26 points in 23 games lifetime against the Coyotes.
--Niskanen had two assists, and has points in each of the last two games.
--Steve Begin and Brandon Prust fought in the first period, with Begin earning the decision by only a slight margin.
--Eriksson's power-play goal was only Dallas' second in the last nine games.
--The previous two meetings between the teams both ended 1-0.
--Sydor is now two goals shy of 100 in his NHL career, and needs two points to reach 500.
--The Stars have lost seven straight for the first time since Nov. 30 - Dec. 12, 1989 when they played in Minnesota.
--Dallas finished with a 2-2-2 mark against the Coyotes this season.
--The last time the Stars fell five straight times on the road was in Nov. 2003.