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Aucoin scores SO winner, extends Coyotes' streak to 9 with 3-2 win over Stars @NHLdotcom

DALLAS - Another shootout, another win for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Adrian Aucoin scored in the fourth round of the tiebreaker and the Coyotes matched a franchise record with their ninth straight victory, 3-2 over the Dallas Stars on Sunday night.

The Coyotes improved to 12-4 in shootouts this season and have won eight straight tiebreakers, five during the nine-game streak.

"For a team that not supposed to have a lot of skill, we're finding ways to win, especially in a shootout," Phoenix goalie Jason LaBarbera said.

"We just have so much confidence in this room right now and I think that's the big difference. The confidence right now is unreal and you just want to compete hard for the guy next to you and it's working well."

The Winnipeg Jets, who moved to Phoenix in 1996, also won nine in a row from March 8-27, 1985.

Closing in on its first playoff berth since 2002, Phoenix has 97 points to match Chicago for the most in the Western Conference. The Coyotes are the biggest surprise in the league, moving past San Jose to take over the top spot in the Pacific Division.

Brad Richards scored in the first round for Dallas, but the Stars' next three shooters failed to convert against LaBarbera.

Radim Vrbata beat Marty Turco on the backhand in the third round, and Aucoin was successful for the fifth time in five shootout attempts this season to give the Coyotes the extra point.

"He's our closer," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of Aucoin.

Aucoin takes a basic approach in shootouts.

"I just go there and shoot it," Aucoin said. "I don't want to deke or lose the puck."

Petr Prucha and Verbata had power-play goals for Phoenix.

LaBarbera made 30 saves. He got the assignment after Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 34 shots on Saturday night when Phoenix beat Chicago 5-4 in a shootout.

The Coyotes should have been dragging after arriving in Dallas during a rare snowstorm at 3 a.m. Sunday, but they had enough left to prevail in another tiebreaker.

"What can you say about this group that hasn't already been said?" said Tippett, fired by the Stars after last season.

"Every night I say I'm concerned about this or that, and they just keep coming up with big efforts. To get in here last night at 3 o'clock...and get very little sleep, and the emotional hard game we played last night, we played very well."

Rookie Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson had goals, and Turco stopped 33 shots for the Stars, 3-6-2 since the Olympic break.

Dallas has 76 points with 10 games left and is in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight season. That hasn't happened since 1987 and '88 when the franchise was in Minnesota.

"Give our guys lots of credit," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "No quit in them. They kept fighting. They battled hard. We got a point out of it, but at the same time, those things just crush you."

The Coyotes took a 2-1 lead into the third period before Eriksson tied it on a deflection at 7:11.

"We got it back in the third, but we need all the points we can get and we lost one today," Eriksson said.

LaBarbera made a sprawling glove save on Benn with three minutes left in regulation to keep the score even at 2.

Turco had posted consecutive shutouts against the Coyotes, stopping 82 consecutive shots against them before Prucha's power-play goal with 0.9 seconds left in the first period.

Vrbata set up Prucha's goal, then scored himself on Phoenix's second power play of the night, striking from the left circle at 2:23 of the second period for a 2-0 edge.

Dallas was energized when Benn went in on a breakaway and batted his own rebound past LaBarbera at 3:45 of the second period.

NOTES: Dallas is 5-10 in shootouts this season. ... Eriksson had gone seven games without a goal before scoring his 26th to take over the team lead. ... The Stars ended a six-game homestand 2-2-2. ... Stars C Mike Modano missed his fourth straight game following an appendectomy. ... The Coyotes were without C Robert Lang (lower body). ... Dallas had 16 successful penalty-kills before Prucha's goal. ... Turco returned after Kari Lehtonen started the previous three games. ... The Stars scored 15 goals in their previous three games.

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