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Stars fall to Coyotes, 6-3

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars have played well since the All-Star break, picking up big wins and big points against some tough opponents, but they rolled out a clunker Thursday night in Arizona, falling 6-3 to the Coyotes at Gila River Arena.

The Stars, playing their third game in four nights, got off to a good start and took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period, but after that Arizona controlled a good part of the play. The Coyotes registered a season-high 42 shots on goal and matched their season-high in goals, which was set in their last game.

“We’ve got to be ready to go and be ready to play a good, solid defensive game against any team in this league. We can’t take games off like we did tonight,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn.

The Stars had no answer for the Coyotes line of Max Domi, Martin Hanzal and Anthony Duclair. Domi recorded two goals and one assist, Duclair registered three assists, and Hanzal tallied one goal and one assist in playing a lot against the Stars top line.

“We knew that Hanzal’s line was a good line,” said Benn. “Those two young players (Domi, Duclair) obviously have a lot of speed, and we knew it coming in. They definitely took it to us tonight.”

It was a rough night for the Dallas defense. Jason Demers put the blame on himself when asked if the Stars were caught off guard by the speed of the Coyotes.

“No, it was me making three big mistakes, and they capitalized on three mistakes. That’s the way it goes. I let the team down in a big way today,” Demers said. “The speed shouldn’t have surprised us, just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready. That’s what happens in this league; you end up losing to a team you should beat.”

Stars coach Lindy Ruff sat Demers for part of the second period but said responsibility rested with more than one player.

“I thought as a defense corps we struggled,” Ruff said. “It was more than just Demers. He can take some of it, but as a group, we weren’t very good.”

Tyler Seguin, Benn and Ales Hemsky scored for the Stars. Antti Niemi got the start in goal and stopped 36 of 41 shots.

The loss was the second straight for the Stars (37-16-6). They remain one point behind Central Division-leading Chicago and saw third-place St. Louis pull to within three points. The Coyotes won for the third time in their past four games but remain four points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

“That was a really big win for sure,” Domi said. “That’s a really good hockey team over there, and obviously, they really took it to us the first 10, 11,12 minutes there. We were on our heels a little bit, but we battled back, and that shows a lot about our group. We found a way to get our legs going, and that was great.”

The Stars came out with a strong push early and took a 1-0 lead when Patrick Sharp set up Seguin on a two-on-one rush and Seguin roofed a shot over Coyotes goaltender Louis Domingue at the 9:38 mark.

Arizona made a strong push over the second half of the period, but couldn’t crack Niemi, who had several sharp stops and ended up with 18 saves over the first 20 minutes.

Domi tied the game early in the second, taking a pass from Duclair, blowing by Demers and beating Niemi with a backhand shot at the 3:33 mark.

After a rash of penalties on both sides, the Stars went on their third power play of the game 12 minutes into the second and scored to take a 2-1 lead. Jason Spezza set up Benn, who scored from the bottom of the right circle at the 13:02 mark.

But the Coyotes tied it 51 seconds later when Mark Stone scored off a blast from the point, and it was a 2-2 game.

Arizona took the lead late in the second when Duclair drove the net off the rush, put a shot on goal and Domi scored on the rebound to put the Coyotes up 3-2 at 18:26 of the second.

“We knew before the game that they were obviously a high-skilled forward team. It was a lot of back and forth skating, so it worked out pretty well,” Duclair said. “We like to use our skill and our speed there in our line, and it worked out pretty well for us.”

The Coyotes extended the lead to 4-2 with a power-play goal 7:20 into the third period. With Demers in the box for tripping, Hanzal scored on the rebound of an Oliver Ekman-Larsson shot. The Stars cut the lead to 4-3 just 93 seconds later when Hemsky scored on a wrap-around, but Tyler Gaudet answered for the Coyotes 41 seconds later, scoring off the rush for his first NHL goal to give Arizona a 5-3 lead. Antoine Vermette scored a late empty-net goal to seal the victory for the Coyotes.

*Jason Spezza returned to the lineup after missing six games with an upper-body injury. Spezza had two assists in 18:13 of playing time.

*The Coyotes outshot the Stars 42-39. Dallas had a 70-64 advantage in shot attempts.

*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with 8 shots on goal and 11 shot attempts.

*Seguin’s goal was his 31st of the season. He ranks third in the NHL. Jamie Benn scored his 30th goal of the season. He ranks fourth in the league.

*The Stars were 1-4 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 41 of 74 faceoffs (55 percent).

*Vernon Fiddler won 7 of 11 (64 percent). Tyler Seguin won 10 of 16 (63 percent). Cody Eakin won 5 of 9 (56 percent). Jason Spezza won 9 of 18 (50 percent). Mattias Janmark won 6 of 13 (46 percent).

*John Klingberg led the Stars with 24:12 of ice time.

The Stars return home to take on the Boston Bruins at American Airlines Center Saturday. This is the second and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Stars won, 5-3, in Boston on Nov. 3.

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Antoine RousselCody EakinJason Spezza

Valeri NichushkinMattias JanmarkAles Hemsky

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Patrik NemethJordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Travis Moen (lower body)

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak, Radek Faksa

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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