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Coyotes head to Dallas seeking 9th win in a row

by John Kreiser
COYOTES (45-22-5) at STARS (31-27-13)

Last 10
– Phoenix 8-2-0; Dallas 3-6-1

Season series – It’s the sixth and final meeting between the Pacific Division rivals, with the Stars looking for a split. Phoenix won the first three games, but the Stars have won the last two without allowing a goal – 4-0 at home on Feb. 6 and 3-0 at Arena a week later.

Big story
-- Ready for the first-place Phoenix Coyotes? It could happen. The Coyotes would have to extend their winning streak to nine games by beating the Stars, while San Jose would have to lose in Edmonton. That’s some achievement for a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002. The Stars, who are completing a six-game homestand, are trying to stay alive in the playoff race.

Team Scope:

-- Any doubts that the Coyotes were for real were erased Saturday night, when they battled back from 2-0 and 4-2 deficits against Chicago to earn a 5-4 shootout win before a sold-out house at Arena. The win was the Coyotes’ eighth in a row, one shy of the franchise record, and the second in a row in which they made up a multi-goal deficit in the third period before winning in a shootout.

But they know that there’s more work to be done.

"It feels good, but we are not done," defenseman Zbynek Michalek said. "We know there is much more work ahead of us. ... Our confidence is really high right now. Hopefully we can keep riding it."

Stars -- Dallas’ playoff hopes are almost gone, but the Stars are still alive after holding off the Ottawa Senators 5-4 on Saturday for their second win in three games. Dallas is eight points behind eighth-place Detroit and need a victory to keep whatever hopes they have alive. The Stars haven’t missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1987 and 1988, when the franchise was based in Minnesota.

"We know what's at stake," defenseman Trevor Daley said. "We know it's an uphill battle."

Who’s hot -- The arrival of Lee Stempniak from Toronto at the trade deadline has coincided with the Coyotes’ eight-game winning streak. He has 9 goals and 11 points, with at least one point in each of the eight games. … Dallas center Brad Richards is 3-3-6 in his last three games. Though Marty Turco has struggled recently, he may get the call against the ‘Yotes after blanking them twice in February.

Injury report -- Phoenix forward Scottie Upshall (knee surgery) and Kurt Sauer (upper-body) are on injured reserve and gone for the season. Center Robert Lang (lower-body) is day-to-day. … Dallas center Mike Modano is still sidelined after undergoing an appendectomy.

Stat pack -- A Phoenix victory would tie the franchise record set when the Winnipeg Jets won nine in a row from March 8-27, 1985. The Coyotes have outscored their opponents 25-14 during the eight-game streak. Phoenix leads the NHL with 16 wins after regulation and 11 in shootouts.

Puck drop
-- Both teams are playing their third game in four nights and fourth in six, though the Coyotes have been in a different city for each. But the chance to enhance what’s already a special season should banish any thoughts of fatigue for the Coyotes.

"We never want to quit, and we came back and found two points," forward Radim Vrbata said after getting the shootout winner on Saturday.

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