Coyotes polish off Stars 4-1

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

DALLAS -- Mike Smith stopped 28 shots and 10 players had points for Phoenix as the Coyotes beat the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.

"That's three games we've played how we want to play or how we have to play," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We've got a lot of people really committed into doing things that make you win hockey games. I give our guys a lot of credit. They competed hard. They did a lot of little things right that make you win games."

Phoenix (25-21-8) got goals by Keith Yandle in the first period, Radim Vrbata in the second and Raffi Torres and Derek Morris in the third to move ahead of Dallas (27-23-2) into ninth place in the West. The Coyotes are even with eighth-place Minnesota at 58 points, two ahead of Dallas (27-23-2), but are ninth because they have played one more game.

With the win, the Coyotes are now 5-3-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.

"When you play back-to-back, you want to play smart," Vrbata said. "You don't want to waste energy too much. You don't want to create turnovers. You want to play smart in the offensive zone and make less mistakes than them so you don't waste energy. I think that's the key to it."

Dallas' lone goal came from Michael Ryder in the second period. Kari Lehtonen allowed four goals on 24 shots as the Coyotes improved to 3-0-1 in their last four trips to Dallas.

"We weren't very good again," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "Even with a real good goalie performance, we got outworked by a team that played last night."

Yandle gave the visitors an early lead 4:43 into the game when his long slapper from the left side hit a Dallas player and beat Lehtonen through the five-hole for his seventh of the season.

"We wanted to push back. We knew that they were going to try to come at us hard because of the back-to-back and we wanted to push back," Tippett said. "Coming out of the first period up 1-0, that was a good push back."

Dallas tied it 2:34 into the second when Ryder zipped a wrister from well inside the right faceoff circle just over Smith's blocker for his team-high 19th goal. Lehtonen preserved the lead 18 seconds later when he made a huge diving glove save on a shot by Ray Whitney.

Stars rookie defenseman Philip Larsen took a stick to the face at 7:02 of the second period, resulting in a double minor to the Coyotes' Mikkel Boedker. Dallas had four shots during the four-minute power play, but the Stars were unable to convert.

"I think it (killing off that double minor) was a big momentum booster for us," Tippett said. "Getting the kill there and exhausting ourselves doing it was a boost to the rest of the guys on the bench."

Boedker nearly redeemed himself just seconds after leaving the box, but his shot at an open Dallas net went wide.

The Coyotes went ahead to stay when Vrbata scored his 25th of the season at 14:30 of the second. After Eric Nystrom turned the puck over in the neutral zone, Whitney collected before feeding Rostislav Klesla, who fed Vrbata in front of the net for the goal.

Lehtonen had to change masks 2:04 into the final period when he stopped a long slapper by Phoenix defenseman Adrian Aucoin with his head, sending the Dallas goaltender to the ice. But after a short delay to get Lehtonen a new mask, play resumed.

However, the Coyotes took command when Torres beat Lehtonen over the shoulder from the lower left circle at 5:41 of the third. Martin Hanzal, who scored twice in Monday night's win against Detroit, added an insurance goal at 16:09.

Yandle left the ice at 8:27 of the final period with a lower body injury after taking a puck to the knee and did not return. But according to Tippett, the Phoenix defenseman is fine.
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