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Stars go for sweep of Coyotes

by Brian Hunter

STARS (3-4-1) at COYOTES (2-4-2)

TV: FS-Southwest, FS-Arizona+

Season series: It's the third of four meetings between these Pacific Division rivals, and the second in as many nights. Jaromir Jagr scored in the fourth round of a shootout Friday to give the Stars a 4-3 win in Dallas and complete a sweep of the two games at American Airlines Center. The Stars also won by a 4-3 score on opening night on a late goal by Loui Eriksson.

Big story: Saturday's game marks the expected return to the lineup of Phoenix forward Raffi Torres, who was handed a 21-game suspension during last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs for an illegal hit that knocked Chicago star Marian Hossa out for the rest of a first-round series the Coyotes would go on to win. With both teams treading water early, the Stars got the extra point to open this home-and-home, but the Coyotes have the chance to salvage a solid weekend by responding at Arena.

Team Scope:

Stars: In between their two wins against Phoenix this season, Dallas dropped five of six -- but Kari Lehtonen has picked up where he left off last season in goal. He made 31 saves Friday through regulation and overtime, then stopped three of four Coyotes attempts in the shootout. Jamie Benn tallied in the third round to extend the penalty-shot tiebreaker before Jagr won it, and the Stars survived despite allowing leads of 2-0 and 3-1 to slip away.

"I think it's pretty exciting for the fans," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "The fans, seeing No. 68, a guy of that caliber, I think they got their money's worth."

Coyotes: The best news to come out of Friday for Phoenix was the return of their No. 1 goalie, Mike Smith, and one of its top scorers, Martin Hanzal. Playing for the first time in nine days, Smith showed early signs of rust, giving up three goals in the first 21 minutes. But he was flawless after that until the shootout, allowing his team to rally behind a pair of goals from Hanzal, back after missing a pair of games. Radim Vrbata added a goal and an assist; he also gave the Coyotes a temporary lead in the tiebreaker by scoring in the second round.

"Not really many positive things, but just tried to battle, stay in it, and give the team a chance," Smith said. "We found a way to get a point. We'd like two against a division rival, but we'll take the point."

Who's hot: Antoine Roussel scored in his NHL debut for the Stars on Friday, while Brenden Dillon also recorded his first NHL goal in his ninth game and added an assist. … Vrbata has a goal and five assists during a five-game points streak for the Coyotes. Oliver Ekman-Larsson has four assists in as many games.

Injury report: Dallas defenseman Aaron Rome sat out Friday with flu-like symptoms. Forward Derek Roy and goalie Christopher Nilstorp are on injured reserve with groin injuries. … Phoenix forward Steve Sullivan (lower body) is day-to-day. Forward Matthew Lombardi (upper body) and defenseman Rostislav Klesla (lower body) are on injured reserve.

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