Photo credit: AP/Matt Slocum & Dallas Stars
The first period began with the Coyotes going on the early attack as they backed the Stars into their own zone and forced Stars goaltender Marty Turco to make a pair of saves, including one after he lost his stick.
Coyotes forward Ladislav Nagy took a big hit along the boards by Dallas' Brendan Morrow, knocking Nagy to the ice and sending him off on a line change.
The physical play continued at 2:17 of the first period when Coyotes rookie Tim Jackman dropped the gloves with Stars tough guy Nathan Perrot in a battle that saw both combatants land a series of blows before being separated.
With 17:43 to play in the opening period, Phoenix took their first penalty of the game as Petr Nedved was called for hooking. Building on their five penalty kills last night against San Jose, the Coyotes continued the trend as they shut down the Dallas attack and returned to full strength without consequence.
As the period continued, the Stars offensive attack intensified with puck control in the Phoenix zone and a series of high percentage shots on goal. But the Coyotes were covered by the play of goaltender Brian Boucher who kept the puck out of the net.
The Coyotes used the play of Boucher as momentum as they tried to establish their own offensive presence late in the period. With 2:30 to play, the pressure would pay off as Coyotes defenseman Sean O'Donnell blasted a shot from the point that was tipped in front by a falling Mike Ricci and past Turco for a 1-0 Phoenix lead. The goal was Ricci's fourth of the season.
Dallas was able to get several shots on goal in the final minute of play, but was unable to solve Boucher as the first period came to an end with the Coyotes leading 1-0.
The Coyotes began the second period down a skater as Petr Nedved, who sustained a groin injury during the first period was taken out of the game and would not return.
With just under 14 minutes to play in the second, Mike Comrie had a chance to put the Coyotes up by two when he took a pass from defenseman Denis Gauthier at the blue line and raced into the slot, firing a shot on goal, but Turco was able to snag the puck with his glove to keep it a 1-0 contest.
Dallas' Stephane Robidas was sent to the box for holding with 13:44 to play in the period, giving the Coyotes their second power play of the night. With 33 seconds left in the penalty to Robidas, the Stars found themselves down by two men when Stu Barnes was called for holding. The Coyotes went on the attack with the five-on-three advantage, but the Dallas penalty killing unit was quick to break-up passes headed toward the slot as they killed off both penalties while keeping the Phoenix lead to a single goal.
The Coyotes took a pair of penalties as the period continued as Keith Ballard was called for holding at 10:54 and Denis Gauthier for delay-of-game at 13:03. But the Coyotes were in a zone when it came to killing penalties and they held off a ferocious Dallas attack to keep the 1-0 lead.
Phoenix finally got another chance on the man-advantage with 3:08 left in the frame when Steve Ott was called for tripping. The Coyotes had a couple good chances to increase their lead, but Turco made brilliant kick save with the right leg to stop the shot from Zbynek Michalek and deflect the puck into the corner, effectively killing off the remainder of the Phoenix power play.
In the final minute of play, Coyotes forward Shane Doan played the puck in the Dallas zone with a high-stick, bring the play out to the neutral zone for the final seconds as the two teams headed off the ice after 40 minutes of play with Phoenix still leading 1-0.
Early in the third period, the Coyotes made their way back to the penalty box at the 1:22 mark as Dave Scatchard was called for hooking. Once again the Stars went looking for offense with excellent control in the Phoenix zone and sending period shots on net, but as he had done all night, Boucher turned aside the drives to hold onto the lead.
But just nine seconds after the penalty to Scatchard expired, Dallas' Brendan Morrow was able to out muscle Michalek in front of the Coyotes net and tip a centering feed past Boucher to tie the contest at 1-1.
Denis Gauthier made his second trip to the penalty box with 13:52 left in the third as he was called for roughing when he laid a hit on Bill Guerin in the neutral zone. On the penalty kill, the Coyotes came within inches of re-taking the lead when Mike Ricci flipped the puck into the Dallas zone where Boyd Devereaux chased it down and tried to make his way around a sliding Marty Turco to get to a wide open net, but the Dallas netminder was able to get his right toe on the puck and keep Devereaux from cashing-in on the play. After that, the Coyotes kept the aggressive forecheck on and killed off their seventh penalty of the night.
The Stars took advantage of a freak play mid-way through the period when Denis Gauthier broke his stick at the point in the Dallas zone, resulting in a turnover. The Stars immediately headed up ice where Gauthier was caught flat-footed and as a result, Steve Ott was able to get in behind the Phoenix defender, grab the puck and flip a wrist shot over the shoulder of Boucher to give Dallas a 2-1 lead.
Phoenix refused to give in to the Stars despite being down by a goal and with 6:10 left in the period, they even the score at 2-2 when Mike Comrie broke-up a Dallas breakout at the blue line, sending Ladislav nagy into the zone where he drew two defenders and Turco to him before sliding the puck back to a diving Shane Doan, who tipped it into the open net. The goal by Doan was is seventh of the season and 149th of his career.
Just 22 seconds later, the Coyotes re-took the lead when Marty Turco went behind the net to play the puck and was unable to clear it past Mike Ricci, who tipped the puck over to Boyd Devereau at the right side of the net. Devereaux then hit Dave Scatchard with a perfect feed and he calmly put the puck into the open net, giving Phoenix back the lead at 3-2.
The Coyotes went to work trying to run out the final three minutes of the contest, but the task became a little more daunting with 54 seconds to play as Sean O'Donnell was called for holding, giving the Stars a late power play. Dallas used their lone timeout to discuss strategy prior to beginning the power play. In addition, they also pulled Turco from the net, giving the Stars a late six-on-four power play, ironically the same situation the Coyotes found themselves in during the final minute of play last night against San Jose.
But on this night, there would be no denying the Coyotes as they cleared the puck three times in the final minute of play to keep the pressure off Boucher and hold on for a 3-2 win over Dallas.
SHORT HANDED SPECIALISTS
With the importance placed on special teams play, it is no surprise that the Coyotes have made their penalty kill a cornerstone of their play this season.
Over the last two games (both of which have been victories), the Coyotes have excelled when playing short handed as they have killed off all 14 penalties taken against San Jose (5) and Dallas (9).
Even more impressive is the fact that in both games, the Coyotes have been on the wrong end of a six-on-four advantage in the final minutes and have not given up a goal.
The Coyotes will return home on Friday and spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home before leaving for Colorado on Monday, December 26 for a game that night against the Avalanche.
Monday's game can be seen on FSN Arizona and heard on KDUS-1060AM, KDKB-93.3 FM or on phoenixcoyotes.com by clicking on the "Listen Live" link in the Game Day section.
NEXT HOME GAME
Phoenix will return to Glendale Arena on Thursday, December 29, when they play host to Pacific Division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings.