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Stars visit Coyotes in final tuneup before playoffs

by John Kreiser

STARS (40-30-11) at COYOTES (36-30-15)


Last 10: Dallas 6-4-0; Phoenix 2-4-4

Season series: The Dallas Stars are going for a sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes after beating them twice in a four-day span in the final days before the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Big story: A week ago, this looked like it could be the game that decided the final Stanley Cup Playoff position in the Western Conference. But the Coyotes' seven-game losing streak enabled the Stars to clinch the second wild-card spot by beating the St. Louis Blues on Friday, turning this into a tuneup for Dallas and a farewell night for the Coyotes.

Team Scope:

Stars: Smiles were the order of the day at practice Saturday after the Stars assured themselves of their first playoff berth since 2008 by beating the Blues 3-0 in front of a packed house at American Airlines Center on Friday.

General Manager Jim Nill had praise for the players as well as for Lindy Ruff and his coaching staff.

"I'm proud of the guys. I am happy for the guys. They've put a lot of work in," Nill told the Stars website. "It's the same with the coaching staff. It's been a combination of the coaching staff getting the players to buy into the way they wanted them to play, and the players buying into that and the hard work they've put into it. They got rewarded and they deserved to be rewarded."

No one was happier to be back in the playoffs than veteran defenseman Trevor Daley, the only player on the roster who was a member of the 2008 team that came within two wins of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

"We've been at it for 82 games, waiting for this time," Daley said. "Finally it's here and we get to enjoy the moment for a couple days. I think we get Monday off and then Tuesday it is preparing and getting ready for whoever it may be. Then she's a go. It's good times."

Coyotes: Phoenix's slide grew to seven games (0-4-3) when the San Jose Sharks came to Arena on Saturday and left with a 3-2 victory, spoiling the NHL debut of goaltender Mark Visentin.

The Coyotes want to avoid going into a disappointingly early offseason with memories of an eight-game losing streak.

"Nobody ever wants to be in this situation," captain Shane Doan said. "We've got to find a way to end this stupid streak we're on."

Who's hot: Center Tyler Seguin had a goal Friday and leads the Stars with 84 points, including six in his past five games. Linemate Jamie Benn has four goals and four assists during a five-game point streak. … Doan scored Saturday and has goals in two of his past three games. He has 22 goals in 68 games, giving him 12 20-goal seasons.

Injury report: Stars defensemen Brenden Dillon (lower body) left the game Friday night and figures to get the night off. Forward Ray Whitney (lower body) hasn't played since April 3, and Rich Peverley (heart) has been out since March 10. … Injuries to starting goaltender Mike Smith (leg) and center Martin Hanzal (lower body) were a big reason for the Coyotes' late slide.

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