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Stars edge Coyotes in shootout

by Steve Hunt
DALLAS -- After getting a game-tying goal from All-Star winger Loui Eriksson with 27 seconds left, the Dallas Stars went on to a 2-1 shootout win against the Phoenix Coyotes at the American Airlines Center on Monday night.

Dallas center Mike Ribeiro had the deciding tally in the shootout, knocking a shot under the right arm of Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith as the Stars prevailed 2-1. Eriksson had also converted for Dallas in the shootout.

"I think I'm going to judge it like this-it was 3 [games] in 4 [nights]. Maybe we didn't have the zip," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "They [Phoenix] came off a whooping in San Jose and they were hungry. So maybe I'll look at it like that."

But the biggest story was the strong performance of Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped two of the three Phoenix shots he faced. Lehtonen made a stick save on the attempt of Patrick O'Sullivan, the Coyotes' first shooter, and then denied Radim Vrbata at the left post on the second attempt.

"I just try to be patient. That was a big win tonight," Lehtonen said. "Just getting back to playing well in the shootout, that was good."

For the game, Lehtonen stopped 40 of 41 shots.

Eriksson's goal, his first of the season, came as the Swedish-born winger redirected a blast from Sheldon Souray from the left point at 19:33 of the final period. His deflection beat Smith high over his right shoulder.

"Eriksson's deflection is exactly what we want. Loui's five feet from the net and Michael Ryder is almost sitting in the net," Gulutzan said.

Of course, that goal didn't set well with the visitors.

"It was just a shot that goes at the net and re-directs in the net," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "It was probably a game we deserved a better fate, but if we play like that, we'll get our amount of wins.  I thought our guys competed hard, we did a lot of little things very well tonight, and it's too bad we didn't get the two points." 

Dallas drew things level almost 15 minutes after Vrabata made it 1-0 with a power-play goal at 5:55 of the third. His first goal of the season, scored off a tap-in, came just nine seconds after Dallas was whistled for having too many men on the ice for the second time in the game.

Phoenix's goal came on their sixth power play of the game. Prior to allowing that tally, Dallas had been a perfect 9-for-9 on the penalty kill at home this season. The Stars' PK was 4-of-4 in a 2-1 season-opening win against Chicago on Friday night.

The Coyotes finished 1-of-6 on the power play while Dallas was 0-for-7, an obvious area of concern for its coach.

"Our power play, which I'm in charge of, was atrocious and I think we have to revisit it," Gulutzan said. "We also have to revisit our work ethic on the power play because we don't win any battles. We've got to battle to win. We can't get outworked 5-on-4."

Through two periods, the game was scoreless. In the opening period, it was the visitors who had the bulk of the quality scoring chances. At 11:17, Lehtonen denied Phoenix's Raffi Torres at close range and a shot by Shane Doan at 13:37 struck the post.

Dallas and Phoenix combined for five power plays in the first 20 minutes, but neither side was able to convert a single chance into anything tangible.

Just over a minute before Vrbata's goal, Eriksson nearly put the home side ahead at 4:50 but instead saw his 13-foot wrister clang off the right post instead of finding the back of the net.

Just 25 seconds into overtime, the home team put themselves squarely behind the 8-ball when Dallas captain Brenden Morrow was called for a high stick. However, the Stars' PK rose to the challenge to kill off Phoenix's eighth power play of the game.

"The three guys out there did a great job," Stars center Vernon Fiddler said of the penalty-killing unit's work on the final Coyotes' power play. "We need those kinds of efforts to win games."
Both clubs have three days off until their next games. On Thursday, the Coyotes visit Nashville, the final stop in their three-city road trip to start the season. Dallas will host St. Louis in the second contest of a three-game homestand.

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