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Stars need road wins to stay in West race

by Mike G. Morreale
STARS (33-23-6) at COYOTES (33-21-10)

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

Last 10 -- Dallas 3-6-1; Phoenix 7-2-1

Season series -- This is the fifth of six meetings between the Pacific Division rivals. Phoenix has won the last three games, outscoring Dallas by a 9-4 margin along the way. In their most recent meeting, Feb. 9, Radim Vrbata scored a power-play goal 1:13 into overtime to lead Phoenix to a 3-2 triumph.

Big story -- Dallas scored a critical 3-2 victory against Nashville and enter the week in eighth place in the Western Conference. It was only their third win in the past 12 games, and sends them off on a four-game road trip that starts with this one Tuesday in Phoenix.

Phoenix enters the week fourth in the West with 76 points, two ahead of fifth-place Los Angeles.

Team Scope:

Stars --
The trade to acquire defenseman Alex Goligoski from the Pittsburgh Penguins, which cost the Stars potential 40-goal scorer James Neal, paid off big in a 3-2 win against Nashville on Saturday. Goligoski, the game's second star, scored once and set up Loui Eriksson's game-winner on the power-play with 3:42 left to give the Stars a critical victory.

"You could see where Goligoski's speed and ability to join the rush just adds creativity to your offensive game, when you can create an out-numbering chance, and he knows what to do with the puck," Stars coach Marc Crawford said.

Coyotes -- After winning eight straight games, the Coyotes have dropped their last three by a combined 16-9, including a 4-3 shootout setback against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. During its winning streak, Phoenix allowed 13 goals -- an average of 1.6 goals per game. Over the last three losses, they've allowed an average of 5.3 a game.

Who's hot -- Stars captain Morrow has 1 goal and 5 points in the last five games. … Phoenix right wing Radim Vrbata has a point in three of his last four games, notching 1 goal and 4 points over that span.

Injury report -- Dallas is awaiting the return of top forward Brad Richards (concussion) and defenseman Nicklas Grossman (hip). … The Coyotes are without defenseman Ed Jovanovski (orbital bone surgery).

Stat pack -- Kari Lehtonen currently leads the NHL in assists by a goaltender with 5. He's the first goaltender to record that many assists in a single season since Marty Turco did it for the Stars in 2008-09.

Puck drop -- "We need to play with that desperation and intensity," Morrow said. "The majority of games, the teams we're coming up against are going to be in the same position, so we need to rise to the occasion and have that same desperation in our game."
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