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Coyotes snap Stars' streak at seven

by John Kreiser

Radim Vrbata's goal and two assists helped the Coyotes avenge a 2-1 loss to Dallas on Monday.

The Dallas Stars seem fated never to win more than seven games in a row.

The Stars came into Arena with the fourth seven-game winning streak in franchise history — and just as had happened in each of the first three occasions, they couldn’t get No. 8. This time it was the Phoenix Coyotes who spoiled things, as Radim Vrbata had a shorthanded goal and two assists in a 5-2 victory.

Dallas showed little of the zip that marked its play during the seven wins, including a 2-1 victory over the Coyotes at home on Monday. The Stars had 34 shots at Ilya Bryzgalov but beat him only twice, went 0-for-3 on the power play and allowed a shorthanded goal, and generally lacked the urgency displayed by the Coyotes, who snapped a four-game losing streak as they scramble to stay in Western Conference playoff race.

“Every game you have to recognize your opponent’s desperation level,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “If you’re not willing to compete at that level and execute at that level, you’re not going to win very often.

“Our execution was poor.”

Center Mike Modano agreed that his team wasn’t as desperate as the Coyotes.

"Tonight shows how hard we have to play every night in order to win," Modano said. "We need to be more disciplined and can't just sit back and rely on our skill. We didn't play with enough desperation."

Phoenix got the jump on the Stars when Shane Doan drove to the net and ripped Steven Reinprecht’s pass behind Marty Turco for a power-play goal 11:29 into the game. It was Doan’s 12th goal against Turco, the most he’s allowed to any rival.

"We were on our heels from the start, got behind, and kept taking penalties," captain Brenden Morrow said. "We didn't earn our calls tonight and didn't capitalize on our scoring chances."

Jussi Jokinen tied it at 13:52 when he stripped Keith Yandle in the right circle, turned and whipped the puck past a surprised Bryzgalov.

But Phoenix went ahead to stay at 16:32 when Daniel Carcillo picked up a loose puck behind the Dallas net, angled himself at the left post and beat Turco to the short side for his first goal since Dec. 16.

The Coyotes made it 3-1 with 1:18 left in the second period when Niko Kapanen poked in a rebound. Vrbata’s shorthanded goal, a play on which he raced past defenseman Stephane Robidas, deked Turco to the ice and swept a backhander into the net at 5:22 of the third period, was the backbreaker.

"That was a big goal of the game," Vrbata said. "Dallas was coming back in the third and that gave us a three-goal lead. We could breathe a little easier."

Dallas cut the margin to two goals when defenseman Matt Niskanen's wrist shot from the right point floated through traffic and past Bryzgalov at 9:22, but Nick Boynton hit the empty net with 60 seconds to play.

“They played a good, solid game,” Morrow said. “They played a good team game. They were the better team tonight.”

The Stars get a chance to start a new streak Friday night in Anaheim, which trails first-place Dallas by four points in the Pacific Division.

“This would have been eight for us,” Morrow said. “We have to try to start a new streak tomorrow night.

While Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky was pleased with the outcome, he said the Coyotes must continue to play 60 minutes in every game.

"We want to turn over four lines as much as possible." he said. "We must continue our relentless forechecking because that's the way we need to play."

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

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