Stars down Coyotes in shootout, keep division lead
March, 20, 2012
By Mark Stepneski | ESPNDallas.com
The Dallas Stars held on to first place in the Pacific Division with a 4-3 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.
The Stars hold a one point lead over the Coyotes in the division race and will hold a one point lead over the winner of tonight’s San Jose-Los Angeles game as well.
The Stars had a 3-1 lead going into the third period, but the Coyotes scored a shorthanded goal and a power-play goal to tie the game and force overtime.
The Stars’ top line of Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder combined for three goals and six assists. Ryder had two goals, one assist, Eriksson had one goal and two assists and Ribeiro had three assists.
Ribeiro also scored the lone goal of the shootout. Kari Lehtonen made 27 saves and stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout.
The Stars scored 2:12 into the game to take a 1-0 lead. Off the rush, Loui Eriksson roofed a shot over Coyotes goalie Mike Smith from the bottom of the right faceoff circle.
The Coyotes answered at the 5:14 mark when Ray Whitney sent a pass from the corner to Lauri Korpikoski, who beat Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen with a blast from the slot.
The Coyotes had two power play chances in the period, but couldn’t take advantage.
Stars close to scoring again, but a Michael Ryder shot from the slot hit the post.
Shots were 9-5 in favor of Phoenix.
The Stars had a good chance early in the second, but Mike Smith stopped Vernon Fiddler’s close range backhand shot off an odd-man rush.
Smith had another nice save on Michael Ryder with just under 16 minutes to go and then made a spectacular glove save on a glove save on Loui Eriksson less than 30 seconds later.
The Stars got their first power play of the game at the 4:43 mark of the second and quickly cashed in. Loui Eriksson sent the puck across the crease to Michael Ryder, who one-timed it past Smith to give the Stars a 2-1 lead at the 5:26 mark.
There was a major scrum less than a minute later after Coyotes captain Shane Doan hit Stars forward Jamie Benn in the head with an elbow. Stars captain Brenden Morrow went after Doan with each getting five minutes for fighting, and Doan picking up an elbowing minor for the hit on Benn. There were also a series of roughing penalties and ten-misconducts to both teams, and the Stars ended up with a power play. Benn was shaken up by the hit, but returned to the game.
Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen came up with a big stop with just seven minutes left in the period, denying a Antoine Vermette shot from the left circle with Phoenix on the rush.
The Stars extended their lead to 3-1 with 5:18 left when Eriksson took a pass from Mike Ribeiro and chipped a puck on net off the rush and Ryder got to the puck in the crease and tapped it into the net for his second goal of the night and 32nd of the season.
The Stars announced at the beginning of the period that defenseman Mark Fistric was out for the rest of the game with an upper body injury.
The Stars had their third and fourth power plays of the game in the first half of the third period, but the Coyotes scored shorthanded on the second to make it a 3-2 game. Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a pass from Daymond Langkow off the rush and scored from the right circle at the 8:51 mark.
Phoenix went on its fourth power play of the game with 5:30 left when the Stars were called for too many men on the ice, and the Coyotes scored 28 seconds when Ray Whitney scored off the rush, beating Lehtonen with a shot from the left circle with 5:02 left in regulation.
The Stars lost Benn in the overtime after a violent collision in the corner in the Coyotes defensive zone, but he was back on the bench at the end of the game.
Lehtonen came up with a spectacular save on Ekman-Larsson with 1:44 left in the overtime, stacking his pads on a shot from the left circle to get the game to a shootout.
Ribeiro scored the lone goal of the shootout and Lehtonen stopped all three Phoenix shooters.
Scratched: Petersen, Pardy, Garbutt, Vincour, Jordie Benn