STARS (8-4-6) at COYOTES (10-8-0)
Last 10 -- Stars 5-2-3; Coyotes 4-6-0
Season series -- This is the first of six meetings. Phoenix won four of six contests last season, including twice in Dallas. Mike Ribeiro of the Stars led all scorers in the series with 7 points, all assists. Teammate Loui Eriksson scored 5 goals and had both game-winners for the Stars. Phoenix was led by Enver Lisin (3-1-4), Martin Hanzal (2-2-4), and Shane Doan (1-3-4). Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov recorded all four wins.
Big story -- Coyotes coach Dave Tippett is coaching against the Stars for the first time since being fired during the summer. He guided Dallas for six seasons, leading the club to five playoff appearances, two division titles and a trip the 2008 Western Conference Final. Tippett's teams averaged 47 wins over his first five seasons and notched more than 100 points on three occasions.
Stars -- This is the third game in a four-game road trip that began with a 3-2 loss in Minnesota and a 3-2 shootout victory at San Jose.
The Stars are coming off one of the most exciting wins of the season, a come-from-behind victory against the Sharks in San Jose, one of the toughest road venues in the NHL. Mike Modano and James Neal scored 1:45 apart in the third period to erase a 2-0 deficit, and defenseman Stephane Robidas scored the game-deciding shootout goal on his first career attempt.
"To grind out a win is obviously huge," said goalie Marty Turco, who stopped Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle and Ryan Vesce in the shootout. "But the best part in my eyes, as flat as we played, without our needed spunk and energy the first two periods, for us to say, 'Screw it,' and throw everything we had at them and see where things left. We got bounces, but they got some bounces too. And to get off the schneid in shootouts, too -- all the way around, there's a lot to be content about."
"(To come out with a win) is huge," Robidas said. "Just the way we played, (coach Marc) Crawford came in after the second, he said, 'We're not going to play safe right now, we're going to go for it.' We were skating, the D got involved, go-go-go and you see what happened."
Coyotes -- This is the second game in a three-game home stand that began with a 4-2 loss against Montreal on Thursday.
In losing to the Canadiens, Phoenix surrendered three goals in the third period after being tied 1-1 after 40 minutes. "We struggled moving the puck out of our end, we struggled moving the puck through the neutral zone and we didn't generate a whole lot," Tippett said. "There were not a lot of shots and not a lot of quality scoring opportunities."
GM Don Maloney had this to say about rumors he is considering signing free agent veteran Chris Chelios to bolster the injury-depleted defensive unit: "Chris Chelios is one of many defensemen we are reviewing given the current injuries to Ed Jovanovski, Zbynek Michalek and Kurt Sauer. We have not determined whether he is someone we would be interested in signing at this stage."
Who's hot -- Brad Richards has 3 goals and 8 assists in his last nine games for Dallas, Eriksson has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last four games, and Ribeiro has 2 assists in his last three games. For the Coyotes, Scottie Upshall has 2 goals in his last three games, and Shane Doan has a goal and an assist in his last three.
Injury report -- For the Stars, left wing Fabian Brunnstrom (upper-body) and right wing Jere Lehtinen (groin) are day-to-day. For the Coyotes, defensemen Zbynek Michalek (lower body) and Kurt Sauer (head) are on injured reserve, and defenseman Ed Jovanovski (lower body) is day-to-day.
Stat pack -- Twenty-six of the Stars' 56 goals this season have been scored by players that are 26 years old or younger. This includes 10 from 22-year old James Neal, eight from 24-year old Eriksson, three from 20-year old Jamie Benn, and two from 22-year old Tom Wandell. … Doan has 263 career goals, leaving him one shy of tying Thomas Steen for third place on the franchise's all-time list.
Puck drop -- A Pacific Division showdown between two surprising teams that failed to make the playoffs last season is a great measuring stick game to see just how far both have come.