It wasn't pretty, but it was two points for the Dallas Stars. The Stars made it two wins in a row and hit the .500 mark on the season (3-3-0) with a 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.
"We didn't play our best game tonight. We were a little bit sloppy," said Stars defenseman Dan Hamhuis. "But it's a great sign for our team that we found a way to win. It's the sign of a good team."
The Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead by the midway point of the game but then had to withstand a strong push from the Coyotes, especially in the third period as they pressed for the game-tying goal.
"I don't think we played very well. From a continuity standpoint, this was our weakest performance," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "Was it them or was it us? That's something we'll be able to tell in the morning when we look at the tape because they caused us a lot of problems."
Radek Faksa and Hamhuis both had one goal and one assist for the Stars, and Alexander Radulov sealed the victory with an empty-net goal. Ben Bishop stopped 27 of 28 shots, including 15 in the third period, to improve to 3-1-0 on the season with a 1.49 goals against average and .944 save percentage.
"He competes like hell, fights for his space," said Hitchcock. "He had to be sharp because there were abnormal pucks coming back at him from turnovers high in the zone. With the way we were with the puck in our own zone, he couldn't be comfortable. I was really impressed with his competitiveness."
Video: ARI@DAL: Faksa cleans up Janmark's wraparound attempt
Adin Hill stopped 31 of 33 shots in his NHL debut and Jason Demers scored the lone goal for the Coyotes who fell to 0-5-1 on the season.
"I thought Adin Hill did a nice job for us, was solid in the net," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. "I thought he was just looking for somebody to make a play and score a goal. The guys worked hard and just couldn't score."
Just 86 seconds into the game Stars forward Antoine Roussel and Coyotes defenseman Luke Schenn picked up fighting majors. A little less than four minutes later, the Stars scored the game's first goal. After Hill stopped a Mattias Janmark wrap-around attempt, Faksa put the rebound into the net, and the Stars had a 1-0 lead 5:17 into the game.
"I just passed to [Janmark] in the middle. He made a nice play, and I was just strong by the net and got the rebound," Faksa said.
The Stars had a great chance to extend the lead late in the period, but Hill made a nice pad save on a point-blank attempt by Radulov.
Bishop came up big in the second, stopping two close-range shots by Derek Stepan just under seven minutes into the period. Four minutes later the Stars extended the lead when Tyler Pitlick won a puck battle in the corner and set up a pinching Hamhuis who scored from the left circle to make it 2-0 at the 10:48 mark.
Video: ARI@DAL: Bishop flashes the leather on Stepan
"Well I saw [Pitlick] coming out of that corner," Hamhuis said, "and our forwards did a good job of grinding down there for a little bit, which kind of diverted some of their attention from me. I was able to slide down the back door, and he made a nice pass to get it over there."
The Coyotes made it a one-goal game at 14:40 of the second on a goal by Demers, who took a pass from Max Domi and scored from the left circle off the rush to cut the Dallas lead to 2-1.
The Stars had a great chance to extend the lead later in the period, but Hill turned away a breakaway bid by Jason Spezza with 2:04 left in the second.
The Dallas penalty kill came up big early in the third, killing off consecutive Arizona power plays including 17 seconds of five-on-three time. Coyotes forward Anthony Duclair had a great chance but shot high at the open side of the net.
"The penalty kill was huge," said Bishop. "Two big kills in the third period. That's what you need. You have to find different ways to win."
The Coyotes came close to tying the game at the 13:12 mark but Stepan's shot off an odd-man rush hit the post. The Coyotes pulled Hill with just under two minutes left, and Radulov sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 51.7 seconds remaining to make it a 3-1 final.
Video: ARI@DAL: Hamhuis scores on a great feed from Pitlick
The Stars outshot the Coyotes 34-28 and had a 58-52 advantage in shot attempts.
According to naturalstattrick.com, the Stars had a 14-9 advantage in high-danger scoring chances.
Jason Spezza led the Stars with seven shots on goal. Jamie Benn was tops with nine shot attempts.
The Stars were 0-1 on the power play and failed to score on the power play in a game for the first time this season.
The Stars were 2-2 on the penalty kill.
The Stars won 32 of 57 faceoffs (56 percent). Tyler Seguin won 12 of 25 (48 percent). Martin Hanzal won 7 of 14 (50 percent). Radek Faksa won 5 of 7 (71 percent).
John Klingberg led the Stars in ice time with 23:08. Seguin was next with 21:16.
The Stars and Coyotes square off again Thursday in Arizona. It will be the second of three meetings between the two teams this season. The series finale is Feb. 1 in Arizona.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Remi Elie - Martin Hanzal - Devin Shore
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Marc Methot - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Esa Lindell - Julius Honka
Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Greg Pateryn, Gemel Smith
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.