Coming off an impressive win Tuesday in Chicago to clinch a playoff spot, the Stars struggled Thursday night in Arizona, falling 3-1 to the Coyotes at Gila River Arena.
The Stars spent 11 minutes killing penalties, surrendered a shorthanded goal and lost the faceoff battle (39-23).
“It was not a good night for us,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
The Stars outshot the Coyotes 38-29 but could only get one puck past Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue, who made 37 saves including several quality ones on Stars defenseman John Klingberg, who had a game-high 11 shots on goal.
“Should have scored one or two at least today,” said Klingberg. “There were a lot of shots and some good chances. Obviously, he played pretty good, but I think I should score on some of those.”
Domingue had a couple of big stops on Jason Spezza early in the third period with the Coyotes holding a 2-1 lead.
“I think that we had plenty of chances to score,” Ruff said. “I thought the goalie was good. I didn’t think we got enough traffic in front of him at times. I thought we had some better plays to be made, and we didn’t make them. I have got to give him a lot of credit; he made a lot of good saves at some key times.”
A bright spot for the Stars was the penalty kill, which was 6-6 and kept them in the game. It has allowed just one power-play goal over the past ten games.
“The penalty kill did good,” Ruff said. “It’s been on a good run for us and we need that obviously. I think every team looks at that to give you some emotion in the game, to give you some momentum and I thought it did in the first period when we weren’t very good.”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Stars (44-22-9) and was just their second regulation loss in the past ten games (6-2-2). They missed out on a chance to extend their lead to four points over second-place St. Louis in the Central Division. The Blues, who have a game in hand, host Vancouver Friday night and can pull even with the Stars at 97 points.
“I think our concern should be ourselves, our locker room and our team game and fine tune some things going into the playoffs,” said Stars forward Patrick Sharp. “It’s going to be a good test here these next seven or eight games. We’ve got some tough teams coming in. We know we're going to the playoffs and we want to make sure we are playing our best hockey these next few weeks.”
Ales Hemsky scored the lone goal for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen made his fifth straight start and stopped 26 of 29 shots.
Martin Hanzal scored two goals for the Coyotes, who won their second straight game and improved to 5-2-0 over their past seven. They’ve won both games against Dallas this season.
“It was a good, competitive game,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “Louis was excellent in goal. Our defense competed hard. Just a good team game. Everybody played, did their job, and we found a way to win.”
The Stars and Coyotes traded goals in the first period and they came nine seconds apart. After the Stars were unable to clear their zone, Tobias Rieder redirected a Connor Murphy shot into the net at the 14:11 mark to put the Coyotes up 1-0. But the Stars got a two-on-one on the next shift, and Antoine Roussel set up Hemsky, who made a slick move and slipped the puck past Domingue at 14:20 of the first period.
The Coyotes grabbed a 2-1 lead 55 seconds into the second period. Just after an Arizona power play expired, Oliver Ekman-Larsson put a shot on net that Hanzal tipped, and the rebound bounced in off Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski.
Arizona had a chance to extend the lead to two goals at the 12:10 mark, but Brad Richardson shot high on a penalty shot.
The Coyotes did make it a 3-1 game in the third period with a shorthanded goal. Hanzal put home the rebound of a Klas Dahlbeck shot that hit the crossbar at the 7:51 mark.
*The Stars outshot the Coyotes 38-29 and the Coyotes had a 75-70 advantage in shot attempts.
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 11 shots on goal and 15 shot attempts.
*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 6-6 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars are 28-29 (96.6 percent) on the penalty kill over the past ten games.
*The Stars allowed their 11th shorthanded goal of the season and are tied with Montreal for second most allowed in the league. Arizona has allowed the most with 12.
*The Stars blocked 26 shots. Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 9 blocked shots.
*The Stars won 23 of 62 faceoffs (37 percent).
*Cody Eakin won 7 of 11 faceoffs (64 percent). Jason Spezza won 8 of 19 (42 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 5 of 16 (31 percent). Radek Faksa won 1 of 11 (9 percent).
*Goligoski led the Stars with 26:17 of ice time.
*Defenseman Kris Russell missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.
The Stars conclude their three-game road trip Saturday afternoon in San Jose. The game will be the third and final meeting against the Sharks for the Stars, who are 1-0-1 in the first two games.
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Patrick Sharp
Valeri Nichushkin – Jason Spezza – Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel – Radek Faksa – Ales Hemsky
Colton Sceviour – Vernon Fiddler – Brett Ritchie
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Stephen Johns
Patrik Nemeth – Jordie Benn
Injured: Kris Russell (lower body), Tyler Seguin (Achilles), Jason Demers (shoulder)
Scratched: Mattias Janmark, Jamie Oleksiak, Travis Moen
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.