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Dallas unbeaten in its last five games

2/9/2003

PHOENIX (AP) -- On a line with Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen could
get overlooked -- except when he demonstrates his scoring touch.

The Finnish right wing's tiebreaking goal in the second period
helped Dallas extend its unbeaten streak to five games as the Stars
beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 on Saturday night.

"That was a big goal at the right time," coach Dave Tippett
said. "One thing is, he probably does so many other things so well
that people underestimate his shot. He's got a great, quick
release. It's a potent weapon for us."

Ulf Dahlen also scored for the Stars, who have lost just once in
their last 18 games (13-1-4-0) while outscoring their opponents
61-33. Rob DiMaio had an empty-net goal with 50.1 seconds to go.

Ron Tugnutt, who absorbed the only loss during the Stars' streak
when he allowed three goals in the first period to Tampa Bay on
Jan. 24, had 18 saves, including 12 after Paul Ranheim scored
Phoenix's goal in the first period.

"They need wins to get into the playoffs, so we knew we were
going to be up against a hard-working team," Dahlen said. "So to
win we had to work hard, and I thought we did. We gave them some
chances, but Tiger played great in the net."

The Stars improved to 6-0-2 in their last eight road games, the
NHL's longest run this season and Dallas' best since it went
7-0-1-0 early last season.

Lehtinen got his 22nd goal -- just three shy of his career-high
set last season -- 5:24 into the second period.

After that, the crowd of 16,127 -- the largest of the season in
Phoenix -- had to watch the Coyotes spin their wheels in their third
loss in a row and fourth in five games.

"We felt after the first we were right there,'' Ranheim said.
"At 2-1, you still have a chance. But they play such strong
defense, which makes it difficult."

Phoenix took 10 of its 19 shots in the first period.

By the third, the Coyotes managed only one in the first 14:30,
and Tugnutt deftly handled Ladislav Nagy's quick wrister in the
slot early in the period.

Dallas defenseman Phillippe Boucher fell to block a shot by
Daymond Langkow minutes later, and Tugnutt gloved another shot by
Nagy -- the Coyotes' last -- with 1:28 to go.

"They were desperate today, and that made it a difficult game
for us," Tugnutt said. "We couldn't let up at all. We made some
great defensive plays, some great backchecking."

The Coyotes responded quickly after Dahlen flicked a rebound
into the net 8:20 into the game.

Brad May fired a crossing pass to Ranheim, who stopped the puck
with his skates, fired once and then put the rebound past Tugnutt
61 seconds later. It was Ranheim's second goal in as many games
after going 41 without one.

The Stars regained the lead through some stylish stick-handling.
Bill Guerin backhanded a drop pass to Lehtinen just inside the left
circle, and he beat Brian Boucher with a wrist shot.

Brian Boucher, who made his first start since Dec. 26, had 25
saves.

"I felt good about my game, but unfortunately they got one more
than us," he said. "They are a first-place team playing like a
first-place team."

Game notes
Stars C Pierre Turgeon did not travel to Phoenix, missing
his first game. He is day-to-day with a hip strain. ... The game
was RW Claude Lemieux's first against Phoenix since the Coyotes
traded him to Dallas for Scott Pellerin and a 2004 draft pick on
Jan. 16. Pellerin was a healthy scratch. ... Marty Turco replaced
Tugnutt for 3:43 of the first period because of an equipment
problem, but faced no shots. ... Dallas is 24-2-7-0 when Guerin
gets a point. ... Stars D Derian Hatcher played in his 800th game.

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