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Stars-Coyotes Preview @NHLdotcom

The Phoenix Coyotes are in the hunt for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but have been very inconsistent lately. They hope their latest victory can help them get things turned around.

The Coyotes look to build off that win when they wrap up a three-game homestand on Saturday against the Dallas Stars.

After being outscored 8-0 in its previous two games, Phoenix (20-17-5) defeated Tampa Bay 3-2 on Thursday behind goals form Olli Jokinen, Peter Mueller and Kyle Turris.

The Coyotes are 3-3-0 since Dec. 27, scoring 11 goals in the three victories while being shut out in each of the three losses.

"We haven't played our greatest hockey the last couple of games," coach Wayne Gretzky said. "When you get into a sort of a rut it doesn't change overnight. It takes a little time."

Phoenix, which hasn't been to the postseason since 2002, is in the playoff mix largely because of its play at home. The Coyotes are 14-6-2 at Arena after having the league's second-worst home record last season at 17-20-4.

While they have seen improvement in their play in Phoenix, the Coyotes still need to get better on the power play. Phoenix finished 1-for-3 with the man advantage on Thursday after going without a goal in 25 power-play opportunities over its previous five games.

Ilya Bryzgalov finished with 22 saves on Thursday. He has been in net for each game against the Stars (17-17-5) this season, going 1-1-1 with a 2.62 goals-against average.

Jokinen, who had two goals in the Coyotes' 5-3 win at Dallas on Dec. 10, scored his 14th of the season Thursday.

"We wanted to get that good feeling back in our locker room," Jokinen told the team's official Web site. "We needed these two points. It's going to be a tight race for those last spots in the playoffs."

While Phoenix is hoping to make a postseason run, the Stars have been one of the league's biggest disappointments in 2008-09. Dallas, which advanced to the conference finals last season, is in 13th place in the West.

The Stars lost to defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit 6-1 on Thursday - the fifth time this season they've yielded six goals in a game.

"I have to find and control pucks better," goalie Marty Turco told the team's official Web site. "I can't have pucks go through me like that. We are not doing enough things positive and applying pressure the way we have to, and that needs to be changed soon."

Turco stopped 14 of 18 shots before being replaced after two periods, and has given up four goals in two of his last three games. He is 2-1-0 with a 2.30 GAA versus the Coyotes this season.

Loui Eriksson scored Dallas' lone goal Thursday, his team-leading 21st. Eriksson had two goals in the Stars' 3-2 win at Phoenix on Nov. 15 and scored both Dallas goals in a 2-1 overtime win over the Coyotes at home Dec. 16.

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