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Burnside: Five takeaways from Stars' gritty triumph over Coyotes

Tyler Seguin provided the heroics Thursday as Dallas earned its first road win against the reeling Desert Dogs

by Scott Burnside @StarsInsideEdge /

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- And then it was three.

The Dallas Stars are now the owners of their first bonafide winning streak of the season following a well-earned 5-4 victory over a desperate Arizona Coyotes team Thursday. The Stars' streak now stands at three straight wins, including two wins this week over Arizona, and moves their record to 4-3-0 on the season.

Here are some thoughts and musings on the victory.

 Video: DAL@ARI: Seguin hammers second goal past Hill


1. Third-period heroics

Through 40 minutes, this game was like a wallet left in the middle of the sidewalk. You know someone's going to pick it up, but you just weren't sure who it was going to be.

The Coyotes, winless now with an 0-6-1 record, were relentless as they tried to match blows with a more experienced Dallas Stars team. But in the end, a dominating third period by Dallas's big line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov was too much for the Coyotes to handle.

It marked a kind of coming out party for the big three forwards as the line collected the fourth and fifth goals, both by Seguin, but with significant contributions from all three.

"What they did was they scored in zone, they didn't score off the rush," said head coach Ken Hitchcock. "All their offense, until tonight, so far this season, has been off the rush. But today, they got on the grind and stayed on the grind, and when they are like that, and they're willing to work for their chances, they're pretty dynamic. And that's exactly what they did."

Seguin, who scored off a scramble around the net and then wired the eventual game-winner on a nice feed from Benn with Radulov, blocking rookie netminder Adin Hill's view, felt he and Radulov weren't good in the first, got better in the second and put it all together in the third.

"We need to put a full 60 minute effort in, as far as coming to the puck, working together, because when we do that, we saw in the third period other teams can't touch us as a line. We've got to do that more," Seguin said.

Video: Bishop appreciates the support up front


2. Emotion on display

If part of what plagued the Stars a year ago was a kind of emotional passiveness, this group is working to find and sustain emotion when things get tough.

This was a tough game. Each team answered quickly to goals throughout the night. On the road, sometimes, that's when you let down.

On this night, the Stars didn't, especially in the third period when they outscored Arizona, 3-2.

"We knew that they were going to be hungry obviously looking for their first win," said netminder Ben Bishop, who was excellent in spite of allowing four goals on 31 shots.

"We just kind of looked at it as 20 minutes. We hadn't played our best hockey yet, and we kind of had an opportunity to go out there and when you need your best players to step up, they did. Some big shots," he said.

Hitchcock was well pleased with his team's reservoir of emotion, especially with the game on the line in the third.

"They want to win," Hitchcock said. "They're turning a leaf right now. They're turning the corner and they dug in deep today, and they deserved the two points and that's a good sign. We had our top players come through for us, which is an even a better sign, and the other thing for me is we had a lot of fight in us. We had a lot of fight, because that was a spunky team that we played this series, and we had a lot of fight in us."

Video: DAL@ARI: Bishop denies back-to-back chances with pad


3. Keller bragging rights?

You have to feel for new head coach Rick Tocchet and the rest of the Coyotes. They probably deserve better than one measly point thus far. But watching the play of rookie Clayton Keller on Thursday, it's hard not to feel better days are around the corner.

And maybe coming sooner than expected.

The 17th overall pick in 2016 was a dynamo, playing mostly with Derek Stepan and Max Domi. He assisted on the Coyotes' first goal and added two more of his own to bring his season total to five. His seven points have him tied for second in rookie scoring, and you have to believe he's going to be very much in the Calder Trophy discussion as this season moves along.

"He's from St. Louis. I work out with him, too. So I probably won't hear the end of this," Bishop said with a smile. "But, no, he's a special player. He's not the biggest of guys, but when he gets around the net, he knows how to get the puck in the net. He's got that dynamic skill. He's a smart player and he'll have a bright future in this league. I'll give him those goals, as long as we get the win. That's all that matters to me."

Video: DAL@ARI: Johns sends home wrist shot past Hill


4. Stephen Johns breaks through

It's been instructive to listen to Hitchcock dole out praise to his defensemen as training camp has morphed into the first weeks of the regular season. It began early on with Julius Honka, then included Esa Lindell and Jamie Oleksiak. In recent days it's been the play of Stephen Johns that has Hitchcock excited.

A weird bounce on an attempted clearing attempt ended up in the Stars net early in the second period, tying the game at 2-2. But Johns had himself a pretty terrific night overall. He led all skaters with six shots on goal and fired a missile past Hill, making his second NHL start, early in the third period to give the Stars a much-needed 3-2 lead and force the Coyotes into chase mode.

"Until the day I die, it'll be fun scoring goals," said Johns. "It doesn't matter what league you're in, it's fun scoring goals -- especially a big goal to get the lead in the third, and just help the team out in any way I can. I was shooting the puck a lot tonight and just figured one of them would have to go in at some point, so it was nice to get one for the boys and it was nice to get the win in the end."

Video: Hitch pleased with his top players


5. Some other stuff

Thursday's win marked the first road win of the season for the Stars (they're 1-2-0), and if you're keeping track at home, they once again won the special-teams game.

Benn scored a power-play goal less than a minute after Arizona opened the scoring as he was left all alone in front of the net. It was one of only two man-advantage opportunities on the night.

And the penalty kill was once again stellar, killing off all four Arizona power-play opportunities, including one midway through the third period. The Stars now rank third in the league on the PK.

Thursday's win also marked the seventh straight game in which the Stars have not been outshot (the two teams ended up with identical 31 shots recorded).

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. You can follow Scott on Twitter @OvertimeScottB, and listen to his Burnside Chats podcast here.

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