No victory, but an important point for Stars

February, 9, 2011
2/09/11
11:56
PM CT
There was no win for the Dallas Stars Wednesday night, but they did get a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Phoenix Coyotes at American Airlines Center.

That point kept them on top of a Pacific Division race that got even tighter with Phoenix, San Jose and Anaheim all winning Wednesday night. The Stars are tied with the Sharks at 66 points, but Dallas has the edge with one few game played and remained at the top of the division standings. Phoenix is one point back and Anaheim is two back.

“We’ve been following it all along,” said Stars center Brad Richards, who had one goal and one assist. “Teams are going to go through these times where it seems a little tougher to get your points, but that was a huge point that we got tonight. It keeps us right there, top of the division. We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to be right there.”

Wednesday’s OT loss to the Coyotes gave the Stars a 0-3-1 mark since the All-Star break and a 1-5-1 mark in their last seven games. Like Saturday’s loss in Philadelphia, the Stars saw the game against the Coyotes as a step in the right direction.

“We’re just going to keep building on some positives,” said Richards. “We saw some positives against Philly and again tonight, where we get a point. Overall, I think we’ve got to be a little more desperate in certain areas - offensively and defensively – and we’ll be fine. We’ll get on the other side of those games.”

Richards set up the Stars’ first goal of the night, sending a slick no-look pass from behind the net to Steve Ott, who scored from the left circle midway through the first period to put Dallas up 1-0. Phoenix counted with a power play goal from Michal Rozsival late in the first to tie. Richards put the Stars up early in the second, scoring off a rebound of a Nicklas Grossman chance. Phoenix countered with a goal off the rush early in the third period from Mikkel Boedker.

The Coyotes went on a power play late in regulation when Stars forward Jamie Langenbrunner was called for tripping and the Coyotes got the game-winner at 1:13 into overtime when Radim Vrbata scored off a shot from the slot.

Phoenix ended up 2-3 on the power play in the game. It was the third time in the last six games that the Stars have given up two or more power play goals in a game. They were 0-1 on the power play and have scored just once on the power play in their last seven.

“Special teams are pretty huge this time of year and the last couple weeks we haven’t been so solid in that department,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow.

But the Stars were mostly talking about the positives following the game.

“I liked our work ethic,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. ”If we work like that most nights we’re going to be pretty good.”

Said defenseman Nicklas Grossman: “We’ve got to stay positive, stay together, keep plugging away and find a way here. We can’t start hanging our heads now. We’ve got to stay positive and keep working.”

Notes: Neal plays

Stars forward James Neal was listed as doubtful for the game Wednesday morning because of an upper body injury. But Neal ended up playing, logging 17:01 of ice time.

“He worked all afternoon and went to see a couple of specialists to get himself loosened up and he felt good enough to play,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “Our training staff and doctors felt he wasn’t going be placing himself in any more harm. I thought he played a spirited game.”

Vincour makes debut

Right wing Tomas Vincour made his NHL debut Wednesday night. He played 10:29, had one shot on goal, five hits and two blocked shots.

“I thought he played very well,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “He was physical. He showed some NHL intelligence, just in getting to the right spot.”

Vincour, who said it took him about a period to get going in the game, played on line with Steve Ott and Tom Wandell.

"They helped me out there a lot," said Vincour. "That was a great experience to play with those two guys in my first game. I really enjoyed every minute on the ice."

Mark Stepneski

ESPNDallas.com
Mark Stepneski joined ESPNDallas.com in July 2010. A former news/special projects producer for KXAS-TV, he has run the Andrew's Dallas Stars Page website since 1997.

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