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Stars use third-period rally to overtake Coyotes

by Steve Hunt /

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars had gone 30 days without a win at American Airlines Center. But not only did Dallas win at home for the first time since Oct. 21 by rallying for a 3-1 victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, the way they won might offer an encouraging sign going forward.

Dallas (7-9-4) trailed 1-0 after two periods on a power-play goal by Arizona's Lauri Korpikoski in the first period. But the Stars tied the game 19 seconds into the third when John Klingberg scored his first NHL goal, a wrister from the slot that beat Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith top shelf.

"I would lie if I said it wasn't a nice feeling," Klingberg said. "It felt good when I saw the puck go in there."

The Stars took the lead 33 seconds later when Cody Eakin redirected a shot from the right point by defenseman Trevor Daley past Smith for his fourth goal of the season. Dallas scored an insurance goal with 4:18 remaining when Jason Spezza beat Smith to the short side.

"It's a huge relief," Daley said of breaking a franchise-record seven-game home losing streak. "This win is a better win than the other wins. The next one is what we're after, but this one makes you feel good."

Coach Lindy Ruff was especially pleased with his team's defensive play.

"It was good. It was solid. I thought the puck moving, which was important for our transition game, I thought they were good," Ruff said. "They made a lot of good outlet plays. That's a big deal for us because then we don't have to spend a lot of time in our zone."

Arizona coach Dave Tippett said Klingberg's goal was a game-changer, one that never should have happened.

"A missed assignment on a faceoff, pure and simple," Tippett said. "Come out for the third period, we win the neutral [zone] faceoff. We end up icing it and just a bad missed assignment on a faceoff turned the game right around."

Ales Hemsky had two assists and Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots for Dallas (7-9-4), which won at home for the second time this season.

"I don't know if I can put it into words," Ruff said. "I've been through some tough losing streaks on the road, but I've never been through anything like this at home. Hopefully, this stretch of games can make us a stronger team, bring us together and make us a stronger team."

Arizona (8-10-2), which is starting a three-game road trip, took the lead when Lauri Korpikoski scored a power-play goal at 14:21 of the first period.

Arizona generated the first chance of the night when defenseman Michael Stone rang the crossbar with a wrister from the right point 3:18 into the first period.

The Stars tested Smith at 4:35 when Klingberg attempted to slip a wrister from near the Arizona blue line inside the far post, a shot Smith denied with a glove save. Dallas had another chance at 6:02 when right wing Patrick Eaves, returning after missing three games with a lower-body injury, had a breakaway up the right side but fired wide.

After the Coyotes killed off a holding penalty to David Schlemko at 10:20, Arizona went on the power play at 12:45 when Dallas rookie defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka was called for cross- checking Mikkel Boedker. Korpikoski put the Coyotes ahead with his second of the season when he slipped the rebound of Sam Gagner's shot through Lehtonen's legs at 14:21.

The assist was the 200th of Gagner's NHL career.

Lehtonen made a huge save on Coyotes captain Shane Doan at 11:08 of the second to keep it a one-goal game. Schlemko gained possession after Klingberg misplayed the puck behind his own net and hit Doan with a pass in the right circle, but Lehtonen stopped Doan's hard slapper.

"Their goaltender made a couple big saves; made one really nice one on me," Doan said of Lehtonen. "I've got to score there. That's got to be 2-0 and we've got to have the lead. Played well enough to have more than a one-goal lead, but he made some nice saves and we got to find ways to bury those."

Lehtonen bounced back with a strong effort after he was pulled before the end of the second period of a 6-4 home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday after allowing four goals on 16 shots.

"You try especially hard after a bad outing like that," Lehtonen said. "Maybe keep it simpler and try to play each shift as their own. It wears a little bit more on you, but that's what you have to do; keep mentally focused and be ready."

Arizona defenseman Keith Yandle hit the right post with a wrister from the left point 3:53 into the third. Lehtonen stopped Martin Erat's wrister with 1:04 remaining and denied Antoine Vermette on the rebound.

Tippett and the Coyotes knew the Stars would be desperate to tie the game heading into the third period, but Arizona's failure to execute in the final 20 minutes ended up costing them the game.

"There was desperation coming into the game. It wasn't just that period. It was our willingness to do things right to get a win and we didn't do that," Tippett said.

Dallas had an apparent goal by Travis Moen at 14:38 of the second waved off. Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon was ruled to have been in the crease, limiting Smith's ability to make a play.

"We didn't let that affect us," Ruff said of the disallowed goal.

Smith finished with 24 saves.

Arizona continues its three-game road trip Saturday against the San Jose Sharks. Dallas continues its five-game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings.

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