Just when it looked like the Dallas Stars were back on track following a five-game losing streak earlier this month, they were derailed a bit in Arizona Saturday night. It wasn’t just that they lost 3-0 to the Phoenix Coyotes, but that they lost more players to injuries. The number of players lost Saturday was three, including goaltender Kari Lehtonen.
Lehtonen was helped off the ice 5:31 into the game after pulling a groin while stopping a Derek Morris shot on a play that was offside. Trevor Daley left midway through the first period with what was thought to be a back injury. Center Vernon Fiddler left late in the second with a groin injury.
“We’re still evaluating, but both Dales and Kari are unlikely for Monday (at Colorado) for sure,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We don’t know to what degree yet, and Fiddler will be day-to-day.”
As for the game, it was all Coyotes.
“We didn’t have it tonight and the injuries didn’t help,” said Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft, who took over for Lehtonen in the first period and stopped 33 of 36 shots. “You go down a goalie and then down to five D in the first five minutes or whatever it was, it’s tough, especially against a team that works hard down low. They kind of took it to us a little bit at times during the night.”
The Coyotes outshot the Stars 39-26 and scored one goal in each period to hand the Stars their sixth regulation defeat in the last nine games (2-6-1). Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith stopped all 26 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season.
“I don’t think we responded great [to the injuries]. I am not taking anything away from Phoenix. They outplayed us tonight, no question,” Gulutzan said. “But I thought there was a little window of opportunity if we had some kind of jump that we could have pushed this game as a good road game, and kept it 1-0 or 0-0 for a while. We didn’t get a call early and after that we didn’t respond with any life or any enthusiasm. We just let them take the game to us.”
The Coyotes first goal came on play when as Raycroft was playing a shot by Keith Yandle, he was run over by Phoenix captain Shane Doan. The puck got behind Raycroft and Mikkel Boedker pushed the puck over the goal line to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead with 4:55 left in the first period.
The Stars, who fell to 13-9-1 on the season, will wrap up their two-game road trip in Colorado on Monday. With the injury list growing, the Stars will be facing a stiff challenge.
“Stick with the process. You keep doing the little things,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “When things get hard there are two ways to react to it, you can either fold and you try to find excuses or you take up to the challenge. Everybody has to step up their game. It’s an opportunity for some guys to show what they can do. You want a chance to show what you can do. It’s up to us to do it.”
*Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Brenden Morrow is scheduled to get an injection for his back on Monday and is still expected to return to the lineup for Thursday’s game against Ottawa.
*The Stars were 0-1 on the power play Saturday and are now 0-16 on the PP over the last seven games.
*The Stars have been shut out in three of their last seven games.