The Dallas Stars are back in the win column at home. The Stars snapped a seven-game winless streak at American Airlines Center, defeating the Arizona Coyotes, 3-1, Thursday night.
It was just the second win at home of the season for the Stars, who hadn’t pulled two points out of a game at the AAC since defeating Vancouver on Oct. 21.
“I don’t know if I can put it into words,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I said the other night, I’ve never been through anything like it, especially at home.”
“It’s a huge relief,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley.
John Klingberg and Cody Eakin scored goals 33 seconds apart in the first minute of the third period to erase a 1-0 deficit, and Jason Spezza sealed the deal with a goal late in the period.
Klingberg’s goal came just 19 seconds into the third. The Stars rookie defenseman took a pass from Ales Hemsky, dragged the puck around Arizona’s Mikkel Boedker to get an open look and scored off a wrist shot from the left circle for his first NHL goal.
“Hemsky put it up to me and I was surprised that I could make that toe-drag. I didn’t know that,” Klingberg said. “I got space to move forward, I saw the keeper falling down, it was a good screen and I just aimed for the right side of the goal. … I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a nice feeling. It felt good when I saw the puck go in there.”
“There are not a lot of players that could pull that off,” said Ruff. “It’s a special goal. It lit the building up. It was something our fans needed. It was something we needed. I think that energy from the crowd helped us with the next one.”
The Stars took a 2-1 lead 33 seconds later when Daley put a shot on net from the right point and Eakin deflected it past Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith.
The Stars didn’t give the Coyotes much in the way of opportunities after that and Spezza scored from a sharp angle at the 15:42 mark to make it a 3-1 game. It was a strong showing in a period where the Stars have struggled this season, especially in tight games.
"I think it was the best defending third period we've played,” said Ruff. “Once we got the lead, we did all the right things. Didn't get careless with the puck, we didn't give up transition opportunities. By far, I think the best effort when it comes to protecting the lead and still playing good hockey."
Kari Lehtonen turned in a solid performance in goal, bouncing back from a rough time in Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to Carolina. He stopped 26 of 27 shots Thursday night.
"I thought he was excellent,” Ruff said. “I think that's what you want to see from the leaders of your team. He's one of our leaders, and I thought what he did -- you throw him right back out there, he's got to answer the bell.”
“All I could try to do is stay sane and keep moving forward,” said Lehtonen. “It was nice we are able to get one of these come-from-behind wins. We have to be happy about this and keep going.”
The Stars are now 2-5-4 at home and 7-9-4 overall. Phoenix lost its second straight game and dropped to 8-10-2 on the season.
“You got to play 60 minutes, not 40 minutes to win in this league,” said Arizona coach Dave Tippett. “Third period wasn’t good enough.”
Phoenix scored the only goal of the first period, cashing in on a power play chance. Lauri Korpikoski knocked home the rebound of a Sam Gagner shot at the 14:21 mark.
There was no scoring in the second period, but the Stars did put the puck in the net. But the goal was waved off because Dallas defenseman Brenden Dillon was in the crease and prevented Smith from playing his position.
But the Stars shook off that no goal call and staged their third period rally to get back in the win column at home.
“We knew it was going to happen eventually,” said Daley. “It's a good feeling, obviously. This win is a better win followed by another win. The next one is what we're after, but this one makes you feel good."
Quotable: Trevor Daley on John Klingberg’s goal
“What a great individual effort. Ever since his first game I think he surprised a lot of people around here with how good he is. The kid’s a real deal, he’s a hell of a player. To score like that, he should just build more and more confidence. It’s going to be scary to see what that kid can do.”
*Defenseman John Klingberg has four points (one goal, three assists) in his first six NHL games.
*The Stars and Coyotes each had 27 shots on goal. Tyler Seguin led the Stars with four shots on goal.
*The Stars are 2-3-1 when trailing after two periods.
*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 1-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 29 of 66 faceoffs (44 percent).
*Jason Spezza won 9 of 15 (60 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 7 of 13 (54 percent). Cody Eakin won 8 of 22 (36 percent). Horcoff won 2 of 8 (25 percent).
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 26:08 of ice time. John Klingberg was next with 24:16. Cody Eakin led all Stars forwards with 21:05 of ice time.
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Erik Cole – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Brenden Dillon – John Klingberg
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: D Jordie Benn, F Curtis McKenzie
Injured: F Ryan Garbutt (upper body), F Valeri Nichushkin (hip), 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.