With not much to play for and the emotional fuel tank running a little low, the Dallas Stars closed out the regular season with a 2-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena Sunday night.
“We’ve had a lot of hockey. We’ve put in a lot of games and I know every team has put in a lot of games, but I think a little bit emotionally drained is understandable,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
With a playoff berth secured and the Anaheim Ducks looming on the horizon, the Stars were understandably not on top of their game Sunday night. They managed just eight shots on goal through the first two periods and were outshot 31-17 for the game.
“We were coming outside emotionally. You’re looking forward a little bit. You don’t like to, but it’s hard to get excited with the playoffs and everything,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “But we played well enough to stay in the game to the end. We’re glad to move on and start focusing ahead.”
Phoenix’s David Moss scored with 2:31 left in regulation to snap a 1-1 and help the Coyotes snap a season-long seven-game losing streak.
"It's good to win, it's nice to win, but it's a very hollow game,” said Phoenix coach Dave Tippett. “There isn't meaning in it, it's hard for coaches because you want to push and it's hard to push in a game like that. It's just a hollow game, but we will take the win."
Colton Sceviour scored the lone goal for the Stars. Tim Thomas turned in a stellar performance in net, stopping 29 of 31 shots to keep the Stars in the game until the very end.
The Stars took the early lead, cashing in on the game’s first power play. Sceviour made a nice move in front of the Phoenix net and then roofed a backhand shot over Coyotes goaltender Thomas Greiss 2:35 into the game.
Phoenix made it a 1-1 game 31 seconds into the second period when Shane Doan tipped a Zbynek Michalek point shot past Thomas.
The Coyotes scored the game winner when Martin Erat set up Moss, who put a shot through Thomas from close range.
“I still slammed a water bottle there at the end. At the end you still don’t want to lose,” said Ruff. “Timmy was fighting hard, and I didn’t want to lose that game. It was the only bitter taste at the end of the game.”
The Stars rested some players as they looked ahead to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which they will begin Wednesday in Anaheim. Jamie Benn and Trevor Daley did not play. Kari Lehtonen had the night off and backed up Thomas. Brenden Dillon (lower body) and Ray Whitney (lower body) were out with injury.
*The Stars finished the season 40-31-11 (91 points).
*C Tyler Seguin finished fourth in the NHL in scoring with 84 points (37 goals, 47 assists).
*LW Jamie Benn finished tied for eighth in scoring with 79 points (34 goals, 45 assists).
*LW Antoine Roussel picked up 12 minutes in penalties (roughing minor, 10 minute misconduct) giving him 209 for the season, which ranked third highest in the league.
*The Stars were 1-2 on the power play and 5-5 on the penalty kill.
*Kevin Connauton led the Stars with 25:22 of ice time. Patrik Nemeth was next with 24:46.
Shawn Horcoff – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Erik Cole – Vernon Fiddler – Alex Chiasson
Dustin Jeffrey – Chris Mueller – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – Jordie Benn
Aaron Rome – Sergei Gonchar
Patrik Nemeth – Kevin Connauton
Scratched: Jamie Benn, Trevor Daley
Injured: Brenden Dillon (lower body), Ray Whitney (lower body), Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat)
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.