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Coyotes seek better effort as Stars face must-win

by Dave Lozo
STARS (38-26-10) at COYOTES (41-25-11)

TV -- FS-SW (HD), FS-A (HD)

Last 10 -- Dallas 4-3-3; Phoenix 7-2-1

Season Series -- This is the sixth and final meeting between the Pacific Division foes. The Coyotes have won three of the matchups, but the Stars won the most recent contest, 3-2 in Phoenix on March 1.

Big Story -- The Coyotes still have a chance to catch the Sharks for the division title, but at the very least would like to solidify the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference and home-ice in the first round. The 10th-place Stars need all the points they can get down the stretch.

Team Scope:

Stars --
If the Stars fall short of the playoffs, their recent 1-3-2 stretch may be the difference. This slump was directly preceded by a 6-0-2 run that had the Stars looking like a team that would not be denied.

Instead, the Stars enter Tuesday's game coming off a tough 4-2 loss Saturday to the Nashville Predators in which the Stars jumped to an early 1-0 lead but couldn't hold it.

"I thought we made some great plays at the end," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "Nashville made a couple of good blocks. It was a one-goal game (David Legwand scored an empty-netter), and that is exactly what we thought it was going to be. We just ended up on the wrong side of it."

Coyotes -- The Coyotes hit a wall Saturday, losing 4-1 to the Sharks.

However, the loss was just Phoenix's second in regulation in its past 11 games (8-2-1). If the Coyotes want to get back to their winning ways, they'll need to bring a better effort against what surely will be a desperate Stars team.

"We weren't good enough in any area," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said of Saturday's game. "They kind of controlled play and we have to be better than what we showed, and we know that."

Who's Hot -- Stars center Mike Ribeiro has 4 goals and 9 assists in his last nine games. … Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is trying to push himself into the Vezina discussion. In his last 10 starts, he's 7-2-1 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.

Injury Report -- Stars defensemen Nicklas Grossman (knee) and Karlis Skrastins (thigh) likely are out for this game. …  Defenseman Ed Jovanovski (orbital bone) and Martin Hanzal (undisclosed) are out for the Coyotes. Lauri Korpikoski missed Saturday's game with an upper-body injury.

Stat Pack -- Goaltender Kari Lehtonen has started 25 of the last 26 games for the Stars. … The Coyotes' power play is just 5-for-40 in 13 March games.

Puck Drop -- "I'm disappointed because we didn't leave everything on the ice. I didn't see enough desperation in this game." - Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett following Saturday's loss to the Sharks
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