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Coyotes and Stars meet for first time this season

by Matthew Mankiewich

COYOTES (4-4-3) at STARS (7-4-0)

TV -- FS-Southwest (HD)

Last 10
-- Phoenix 3-4-3, Dallas 6-4-0

Season series
-- It's the first of six meetings between the Pacific Division rivals, but the more important figure at this point for the two teams is their record within the Western Conference. The Coyotes are 3-1-0 while the Stars have struggled at 2-3-0, including 0-2-0 within the division.

Big story -- Both teams are coming off solid character wins. The Coyotes came from behind to beat the Predators and the Stars battled their way to a 5-2 home victory against the Penguins. Both also have tough stretches coming up in their schedules and could use the win.

Team scope

-- One thing the 'Yotes haven't done yet this year is string two wins together. They're hoping the third-period rally that got them a win over Nashville on Wednesday will provide some momentum against the Stars.

Special teams were the secret, as the Coyotes scored a pair of power-play goals and ratcheted up the penalty kill overcoming a 3-2 deficit after 40 minutes. The game-winner at 5:38 of the third period gave Ed Jovanovski his first career hat trick.

"It was a heck of an effort on his (Jovanovski's) part," coach Dave Tippett said. "He was opportunistic in getting the goals, but he played a solid game for us, too. Him and (Sami) Lepisto were a good pair for us out there, and it's good to see him get rewarded for that work."

Stars -- Things were looking pretty bleak for the Stars at the beginning of their six-game homestand -- they dropped the first three against the Predators, Ducks and Kings. But things are looking up after solid wins against the Sabres and Penguins.

On Wednesday night, when the Penguins cut the Dallas lead to 2-1 and went on a power play looking for more, the Stars pushed back, killing the penalty and scoring on a Stephane Robidas feed to Steve Ott at the left circle.

"You know, the penalty kill was good for us tonight, and we just didn't let up at all," Ott said to the Dallas Morning News. "When they raised their game, so did we. We're getting better as a team at that."

Who's hot -- Anyone who scores a hat trick automatically falls into the category, and Jovanovski's performance vaulted him to the team lead in points. Defensemen in general have contributed significantly to the Coyotes' offense so far, scoring seven goals in 11 games.

"No one is holding us back to jump in." Jovanovski said in the Arizona Republic. "There is a time and a place for it, and (Wednesday) we had those opportunities to do it. And like I said, I had a little puck luck, and it went in."

Loui Eriksson has a four-game point streak for Dallas, as does teammate Brad Richards.

Injury report -- Both teams enter Friday's action with a clean bill of health.

Stat pack -- For Dallas, Robidas may have only six points of his own, but he's been in the right place at the right time, as his plus-12 rating continues to lead the NHL. Eriksson is right behind him at plus-11, and Richards is fourth at plus-9. … The two power-play goals the Coyotes scored Wednesday marked the first time this season they scored more than one in a game. For all the offense he's generated lately, Jovanovski hasn't scored against the Stars in 16 games. Dallas' penalty kill is among the NHL's worst at 71.4 percent, but they've held opponents to two goals in their last 17 chances.

Puck drop -- Both teams are at similar stages of development, trying to build chemistry and seeing some progress in the last few days. That means a little more might be on the line than you'd normally expect from an early November game.

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