By Sergey Kocharov
Photos by Barry Gossage
Two days after clinching their seventh Pacific Division title in nine years, the Dallas Stars continued to find new ways to win
Bill Guerin and Jussi Jokinen scored in the shootout as the Stars came back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 and spoil Phoenix rookie Bill Thomas' first career NHL goal at Glendale Arena.
"We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game and that's what it was," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "They're a tough team and you got to give them credit."
Dallas improved to 12-1 in shootouts this season as Jokinen continued his shootout prowess, converting for the NHL-best 10th time in the last 13 tries.
"We knew they were one of the best shootout and overtime teams in the league and they made their chances count," said Geoff Sanderson. "And we didn't."
The Coyotes seemed to have the game in control when Thomas pounced on a rebound at the left side of the Dallas newt to beat Johan Hedberg at 8:47 of the third period. But the Stars, who boast the league's best record when trailing in the third period, once again came back with two goals in a 3:31 span to tie the game on Brenden Morrow's goal with 5:36 left in regulation.
"Those goals were huge for them," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who opened the scoring on a nice deflection in front of the Stars net. "We have to find a way to close teams out. That's something we have to learn in this room."
The Coyotes enjoyed a full two-minute power play to start the extra session, but failed to create any quality scoring chances on Hedberg.
"We didn't do anything on that power and that was the difference in the hockey game," said Doan.
Thomas and Sanderson both failed on their respective shootout attempts for the Coyotes, who dropped to 36-37-4 on the season.
"I knew what I wanted to do, but I think I went with a little too much speed," said Sanderson, who tried faking to his forehand but lost control of the puck. "I just lost my edge."
On Saturday night, Coyotes forward Geoff Sanderson played in his 1000th career NHL game. The 34-year-old has posted 341 goals, 315 assists and 656 points during his 15-season NHL career. Sanderson was acquired by Phoenix along with Tim Jackman from Columbus in exchange for Jason Chimera, Cale Hulse and Mike Rupp on Oct. 8, 2005.
Phoenix rookie Joel Perrault made his debut with the team after being recalled from San Antonio, the team's top minor affiliate, on Wednesday. Perrault has posted 13 goals and 18 assists in 37 combined AHL games with San Antonio and Portland.
The Coyotes will continue their brief two-game homestand on Monday night when they host the San Jose Sharks at Glendale Arena. The game time is set for 7:00 p.m.