- Mark Stepneski, ESPNDallas.com
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The Dallas Stars had a chance to gain some crucial ground in the Western Conference playoff race Tuesday night and while they played well enough to get two points, they ended up with just one in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.
“We deserved to win tonight and we didn’t get it,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “I told the guys after the game that if you have efforts like that you are going to win 95 to probably 98 percent of your games. Their goalie was terrific tonight. He was the difference for them and they needed every one of the saves they got.”
The Stars outshot the Coyotes 45-27 in the game, but could get only one puck past Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. That was a Jamie Benn power play goal that tied the game at 1-1 late in the second period. Bryzgalov also stopped four of five in the shootout.
“We played very well,” said Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, who made 26 saves and stopped three of five in the shootout. “I think we were the better team out there, which is a great thing, but we were not able to get many pucks past Bryzgalov. He played very well for them.”
The point the Stars picked up in the game moved them into ninth place and pulled them to within three points of eighth Chicago, which lost in Boston Tuesday night. The Stars have one game in hand on the Blackhawks. The Stars are four points behind seventh place Anaheim with two games in hand. The Stars have seven games left.
“We just can’t give up,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “We’ve got to keep battling and keep controlling what we can.”
The shootout loss ran the Stars winless streak to four games (0-1-3) and left them with just one win in the last seven games (1-3-3).
“I thought we played a good enough game to get two points, but we’ll take one,” said Benn “We played a good game tonight. If we play like that from here on in we’ll win some games.”
Phoenix’s lone goal in regulation came just seconds after their only power play of the night expired. A David Schlemko shot from the right point hit traffic and eluded Lehtonen at the 12:09 mark of the second period. The Stars countered on their second play when Benn beat Bryzgalov with a quick wrist shot from the right faceoff circle.
Both teams had great chances in the overtime. Robidas hit a post in the first minute and Radim Vrbata had a good look that was turned away by Lehtonen.
Vrbata and Ray Whitney scored in the shootout for the Coyotes and Benn tallied for the Stars, who fell to 5-7 in shootouts this season.
“I thought we were the better team,” said Crawford. “I like the way we played tonight and we have to keep ourselves motivated and keep moving forward. On the positive side we picked up a point and that is always important.”