Coyotes-Stars Game Recap
By Sergey Kocharov
Photos by Norm Hall
The Phoenix Coyotes came into tonight's game with the Dallas Stars on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs were concerned. After the game, the Coyotes were in the same position they were when the contest began.
Niko Kapanen scored his first career hat trick and Sergei Zubov recorded three assists, as the Stars prolonged the Coyotes' winless streak to three games with a 5-1 victory on Thursday night at Glendale Arena.
"Niko does a lot of great things without scoring," said Dallas head coach Dave Tippett. "If he can chip some goals like that, he becomes a really valuable player. He's a very smart player and you'll see how big of a role he plays (for Finland) in the Olympics."
Geoff Sanderson scored for the fourth time in the last three games and Curtis Joseph stopped 25 shots for Phoenix, which dropped to 2-4-1 on their franchise-record 10-game homestand.
The Stars, meanwhile, are going in the other direction after recording their 18th road victory of the season (18-5-2). Only the Detroit Red Wings have more road wins than Dallas with 19.
"This was a division game for us and we knew it was going to be a tough battle every time we play Phoenix," said Dallas goaltender Johan Hedberg, who made 35 saves. "We just focused on our game and made sure we did things right."
Bill Guerin broke the scoreless tie for Dallas when he converted on the team's first power play opportunity at 7:39 mark of the first period. The Stars took a 2-0 lead when Kapanen drove a rebound past Joseph in the second period.
After Phoenix's five-on-three power play for 1:03 proved unsuccessful, the Stars quickly capitalized on their own two-man advantage as Steven Reinprecht was called for a high sticking penalty. Brenden Morrow, positioned in front of the net, received a quick pass from Jere Lehtinen and beat Joseph to score his first power play goal since Dec. 15, 2005.
"The power plays and the specialty teams were the difference tonight," said Coyotes Associate Coach Barry Smith. "They got three power play goals and that was the difference."
Kapanen made it 4-0 with just three seconds remaining in the second period to pad the lead for the Stars.
"The message today was to prepare for our game and not (worry) about the other team," said Tippett. "And we did that tonight."
After Sanderson scored his 17th goal of the season, Kapanen notched his third goal of the game with 4:03 left in regulation to cap the scoring for Dallas. Following Phoenix's turnover and while shorthanded, Kapanen raced down the ice and beat Joseph with a quick shot just inside the right post.
"When you are out on the ice, you have one job and that is what you're supposed to do which is play hockey," said Shane Doan, who registered 10 shots on net. "If you don't do that hard enough then you look for excuses, but there are none."
BOWNESS BEHIND THE BENCH
With Rick Tochett's indefinite leave of absence from his coaching duties, Phoenix Associate Coach Rick Bowness was behind the bench for the first time this season, joining Head Coach Wayne Gretzky and Associate Coach Barry Smith.
GAUTHIER AND DEVEREAUX BACK
Denis Gauthier (shoulder and thumb) and Boyd Devereaux (ankle) returned to the Coyotes lineup after missing the last three games with injuries.
Jamie Lundmark missed his third consecutive game with an upper body injury while defenseman Mathew Spiller was listed as a healthy scratch.
The Coyotes will return to Glendale Arena on Saturday night to play their last game before the NHL hits the Olympic break, against the San Jose Sharks. The game time set for 7:00 p.m.