Third periods haven’t been kind to the Dallas Stars during their recent slide, but they won the final 20 minutes in Arizona Tuesday and defeated the Arizona Coyotes, 4-3, to end their seven-game winless streak.
“It’s a big win,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I’ve got to give the guys a lot of credit for fighting through it. It could have been another game where it turns and goes the wrong direction for us.”
It wasn’t easy, but the Stars found a way to get it done in the third period, where they had been outscored 21-9 coming into the game and had struggled to win close games.
After taking a 3-2 lead on an Erik Cole goal, the Stars gave up the game-tying goal 58 seconds later. Then, they found themselves shorthanded in the final two minutes. But Ryan Garbutt scored shorthanded with 1:16 remaining to put the Stars ahead for good.
“It’s a big win for us. It’s nice to get off the schneid for us,” said Garbutt. “We easily could have crumbled. It was huge for us to come out of it.”
The Stars received a brilliant performance from goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 33 shots and had several big saves throughout the game to keep the Stars close, tied or ahead.
“It was nice to show each other that we can get the win in the third,” said Lehtonen. “It looked a little hairy there when we took the penalty, but we kept trying and it worked out.”
Tyler Seguin scored two goals for the Stars, tallying twice in 57 seconds late in the second period to erase a 2-0 Arizona lead.
That sent the Stars and Coyotes into the third period tied 2-2. Cole scored off a centering pass from Colton Sceviour to put the Stars up 3-2 with 4:41 remaining. Mikkel Boedker scored 58 seconds later off a rebound to tie the game 3-3. Stars forward Patrik Eaves took a high sticking minor with 2:10 left and the Stars were on the penalty kill. But Garbutt chipped the puck past the Coyotes defense at the Dallas blue line, broke in on net and beat Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith with a wrist shot for the game-winning goal.
“I was just trying to hold onto it and make sure I cleared it,” Garbutt said. “I didn’t have anyone come to me, so I chipped it to myself and skated as fast as I could.”
Lehtonen came up with a save on a Shane Doan redirection and Jason Spezza and Eaves blocked shots to help preserve the victory for the Stars, who improved to 5-6-4 on the season.
Arizona, which lost its seconds straight game, fell to 6-8-1 on the season.
“I thought that we had a real good first period,” Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. “At the end of the second period, we turned the puck over and it ended up back in our net and they get the game back tied up. That being said, I thought we were still alright, and when it comes down to mistakes we made to give the game away it is very disappointing.”
Stars captain Jamie Benn dropped the gloves with Coyotes center Martin Hanzal right after the opening faceoff.
“I think Jamie fighting there was just trying to fire up the boys,” Garbutt said. “It was awesome seeing him do that.”
About 90 seconds later, though, the Coyotes scored the first goal of the game. After a Jordie Benn turnover in the Dallas zone, Arizona defenseman Connor Murphy beat a screened Lehtonen with a wrist shot from the point.
A little more than two minutes later there was another fight. This time it was Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon and Coyotes forward Kyle Chipchura.
After that it was the Lehtonen show for the rest of the period. He came up with several big stops to keep the Stars within a goal, including six shots during back-to-back Arizona power plays. His best stop came late in the period, when he made a blocker save on Boedker during an odd-man rush.
The Coyotes extended the lead midway through the second when Joe Vitale scored from the slot on an odd-man rush to make it a 2-0 game at the 11:06 mark.
The Stars had a great chance to cut into the lead when Vernon Fiddler had a shorthanded breakaway, but it was turned away by Smith.
But the Stars struck for two goals 57 seconds apart late in the second to tie the game. The Stars’ top line had a great shift that was capped off when Seguin scored during a scramble in front of Smith to make it 2-1 with 2:01 left in the period. The Stars went on a power play 33 seconds later and took advantage. Spezza set up Seguin, who scored from the left circle to make it a 2-2 game with 1:04 left in the period.
And that set the stage for the third period and the Stars securing their first win since Oct. 24.
Klingberg solid in debut
Stars defenseman John Klingberg made his NHL debut Tuesday night in Arizona and did not disappoint. Klingberg logged 18:32 of ice time, had three takeaways, one blocked shot and a plus-one rating.
“I thought he was real good for his first game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
*Tuesday’s win was the Stars’ first in regulation since the Oct. 21 victory over Vancouver at American Airlines Center.
*Tyler Seguin has five goals over the last two games and is now tied for the NHL lead with 12.
*The Coyotes outshot the Stars 36-32.
*Seguin and Jamie Benn led the Stars with five shots apiece.
*The Stars blocked 23 shots in the game. Trevor Daley led the way with six.
*The Stars were 1-4 on the power play.
*The Stars were 6-6 on the penalty kill and scored shorthanded.
*The Stars won 37 of 72 faceoffs (51 percent).
*Jason Spezza won 9 of 13 draws (69 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 10 of 15 (67 percent). Shawn Horcoff won 8 of 12 (67 percent). Tyler Seguin won 4 of 17 (24 percent).
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Curtis McKenzie - Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Erik Cole – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour
Brenden Dillon – Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jordie Benn – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: D Kevin Connauton, LW Travis Moen
Injured: C Cody Eakin (upper body), RW Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin), D Patrik Nemeth (arm)
This story was not subject to the 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.