Photo Credit: Norm Hall
COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Oleg Saprykin - (C) Dave Scatchard - (RW) Enver Lisin
(D) Nick Boynton - (D) Keith Yandle
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Dallas - Mike Smith
On Saturday night, the Phoenix Coyotes fell to the Pacific Division leading Dallas Stars by a score of 4-0.
Off the opening face-off, the play moved into the Phoenix zone where Dallas was able to take advantage of the Coyotes loose footing and register a pair of shots on net, but would be unable to shake goaltender Curtis Joseph, who kept the Stars off the scoreboard.
Coyotes' rookie Enver Lisin generated the first quality scoring chance of the game when he used his speed to elude a pair of Stars through the neutral zone before ripping a shot from the point that was kicked aside by the right leg of Stars netminder Mike Smith, who was making his NHL debut.
At 4:21 of the first, the Coyotes went on the first power play of the game when Dallas defenseman Philippe Boucher was called for interference. Phoenix would nearly take the first lead of the game when Smith went behind his own net to try and keep the puck away from Lisin, but instead collided with the young Coyote and wound up on the ice as the puck slid out to the side of the net. However, the Stars penalty killers would cover for Smith and gain control of the puck before Phoenix could capitalize.
Phoenix continued to put pressure on the Stars in their own zone when Owen Nolan made a strong move to the outside and drove to the Stars net where his shot was stopped by Smith, leaving the Forward Joel Perrault with a good follow-up opportunity. But Perrault's attempt would go off the near goal post, slide through the crease and eventually be covered by Smith before Josh Gratton could gain control.
The Stars turned the tables on the Coyotes with a little over nine-minutes play when they brought their own rush into the Phoenix zone. Brenden Morrow snapped a shot from the right side that Joseph was able to get a piece of, but the rebound trickled past defenseman Zbynek Michalek and onto the stick of first-year Star Mike Ribeiro, who swept the puck into an open net for a 1-0 Dallas lead.
Shortly after the goal by Ribeiro, the Coyotes found themselves shorthanded when defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was sent to the box for hooking. Without hesitation, the Phoenix penalty killers went after the Stars' power play and forced Dallas to move the puck around the zone rather than holding it and waiting for an open lane. As a result, the Stars rushed their shots on net, giving Joseph extra time to see the puck and make the save as the Coyotes returned to full strength.
The final minutes of the opening frame saw both clubs race into the offensive zone and direct pucks on net, but neither team would be able to convert on the chances as the first period came to a conclusion with the Stars holding a one-goal lead.
Phoenix would go back on the penalty kill just 23-seconds into the second period when Michalek was called for high-sticking. Once again, the Coyotes defense was on top of their game, continually clearing the zone and running time off the clock until the penalty expired and five-on-five play resumed.
The Stars would make their own trip to the penalty box at 3:25 of the period when Stephane Robidas was assessed a hooking penalty. The Coyotes went to work trying to generate quality-scoring chances in the Dallas zone. Good puck movement around the perimeter gave way to scoring chances, and eventually led to a second Stars penalty as Mike Modano was called for high-sticking at 4:56 of the frame, giving Phoenix 29-seconds of five-on-three hockey.
With a pair of extra attackers, the Coyotes attack intensified with bodies crashing the Stars' net in hopes of facilitating a game-tying goal, but as he had done in the first 20-minutes of play, Mike Smith was able to see the shots coming at him and control his rebounds, thereby killing the Dallas penalties and maintaining a one-goal lead.
At 9:55 of the period, Enver Lisin was sent to the penalty box for hooking, bringing the Phoenix penalty killers back onto the ice. However, in addition to sound defensive play, the Coyotes used this opportunity to try and generate offensive pressure as Nick Boynton and Mike Comrie, both created shorthanded scoring opportunities. In the end, Phoenix's offensive pressure help run valuable seconds off the clock until Lisin could rejoin his teammates.
Dallas would increase their lead to 2-0 at 11:58 of the stanza when Joseph went behind the Coyotes net to play a puck, only to be the victim of a bad bounce, sending the puck back to the front of the net. Stars forward Jere Lehtinen tried to make one swipe at the puck, which caught the paddle of Joseph's stick, but a follow-up by Mike Modano was whisked into the net, for a two-goal Dallas advantage.
The Stars' Morrow nearly gave the Stars a three-goal lead when he fired a wrist shot form the slot with less than six minute to left in the second, but Joseph reacted quickly and made a great play to stop the shop and keep the puck out of the Phoenix net.
The final moments of the period would run off without incident and both teams headed to their locker rooms after forty minutes of play, with the Stars up by two.
Just as had been the case early in the second period, the Coyotes found themselves shorthanded 66-seconds into the period when Oleg Saprykin was called for interference. The penalty killing task would become even more difficult when defenseman Derek Morris was also handed an interference penalty at 2:09 of the third, giving the Stars 58-seconds of five-on-three hockey.
The Coyotes would be able to escape the penalty to Saprykin without consequence, but wouldn't be as fortunate with the penalty to Morris as Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher delivered a slap shot from the point that went through a crowd in front of the Phoenix net and past Joseph for a 3-0 Stars lead.
At 3:52 of the third, emotions started to boil over when Boynton sustained a cross-check to the back deep in the Coyotes zone. With no penalty call forthcoming, Boynton settled his differences with Stars forward Matthew Barnaby as the two engaged in a rumble inside the Phoenix zone before on-ice officials could separate the two and escort them to the penalty box.
The Coyotes went on their first man-advantage of the frame at 5:19 when Modano was called for interference. But the Coyotes would be unable to take full advantage of the power play as Mike Comrie was called for unsportsmanlike conduct at 6:31 of the period. As a result, the Coyotes and Stars would have 48 seconds of four-on-four hockey before a Dallas power play.
As it turned out, the Stars wouldn't need to wait for the power play to resume their offensive pressure. While skating four-on-four, Dallas forward Steve Ott made his way through the neutral zone before releasing a backhand shot on the Coyotes net. Joseph made the leg with his left leg, but the rebound came out to a driving Darryl Sydor, who quickly threw the puck into the Phoenix net to make it a 4-0 contest.
The Coyotes would be unable to make a dent on the scoreboard in the final minutes of regulation as they fell to the Stars by a score or 4-0.