By Dave Vest
DALLAS – The Coyotes made Head Coach Dave Tippett’s return to Dallas a success on Sunday by posting a 4-2 victory over the Stars at the American Airlines Center.
The game was Tippett’s first in Dallas since he and the Stars parted ways last June after a seven-year relationship.
Tippett downplayed any added significance of the victory over his former team, opting instead to praise the Coyotes for playing so well less than 24 hours after beating the New York Rangers, 3-2, back in Glendale.
“I thought our guys competed very hard,” Tippett said. “I was really proud of them. You know, that’s a tough turnaround. That’s two games within 24 hours and to come in here … and play against a rested team, that was a heck of an effort by our guys.”
Shane Doan notched a goal and two assists, and Ilya Bryzgalov made 38 saves for the Coyotes (33-18-5), who won their fourth straight game and surpassed the 70-point plateau in 56 games.
Forward Peter Mueller replaced injured Scottie Upshall on a line with Doan and Matthew Lombardi, and he thrived. Mueller had a goal and two assists for his first three-point game of the season.
Bryzgalov, who set a career-high for wins in a season with 29, played a terrific game, especially in the third period when he made 22 saves.
Keith Yandle converted a slick pass from Doan into a back-door goal at 4:41 of the first period. It was the 34th goal scored by a Coyotes defenseman. No other NHL team has gotten as many goals from its blueliners.
Mueller, who was a healthy scratch on Saturday, gave Phoenix a 2-0 lead by beating Stars goalie Alex Auld with a shot at 2:26 of the second period. Doan again set up the play with a dandy pass.
Leading 2-1, Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata skated up the right side and beat Auld with a shot from the right circle at 4:37 of the third period.
Shortly after Stars forward Fabian Brunnstrom pulled Dallas to within 3-2 with 7:02 left, Doan squelched the Dallas momentum with his 17th goal of the season (see KEY MOMENT below).
With their five-game home winning streak in jeopardy, the Stars (24-20-11) cranked up their intensity late in the third period and threw a barrage if shots on the Phoenix net. Bryzgalov, however, was sharp and athletic, and he didn’t let the puck get past him.
“We were good in the third,” Stars forward Brad Richards said. “We were crashing the net. We figured one of those would go in.”
Leading 3-2, Coyotes captain Shane Doan silenced the crowd by ripping a slap shot from the top of the right circle past Stars goalie Alex Auld at 13:09 of the third period. Doan’s goal came just 11 seconds after Fabian Brunnstrom had scored to pull Dallas to within one goal.
“I think (Doan’s goal) was huge because they were only one shot away from a tie, and then it’s a different game," Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said. "But we scored right away. It was an amazing shot and we were kind of like hitting them with a hammer on the head, you know like - ‘OK guys, you’re not in the game.'”
• Before the game, the Coyotes announced that forward Scottie Upshall, who leads the team with 18 goals, would be out indefinitely because of a torn ACL in his right knee. “It’s a big loss for us,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “Scottie’s a great energy guy for us and our leading goal scorer. This is a significant loss for us, but we’ve talked about it all year long that we’ve got to have the pack mentality, and when somebody goes down it’s an opportunity for somebody else.”
• Captain Shane Doan has notched 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in his past eight games.
• The Coyotes upped their record to 26-2-2 in games in which they’ve scored the first goal.
• The Coyotes are 10-5-3 vs. teams in the Pacific Division.
• The Stars acknowledged Dave Tippett’s seven years of service as head coach of their franchise during a break in the first period. Tippett was shown on the Jumbotron and the crowd applauded.
• With his fourth goal in the past four games and an assist, Keith Yandle became the team leader in points among defensemen with 29.
• The Coyotes scratched Anders Eriksson and Robert Lang. Dallas scratched Jeff Woywitka.
• The NHL changed a goal ruling from Thursday's game vs. Calgary. The goal originally credited to Shane Doan is now creditied to Matthew Lombardi. Doan gets an assist instead.
"I think that you're naive if you don't see (that the game was special for Dave Tippett). You hear about it and you read about it, and at the same time we know how good Dallas is and that they're trying to make a run."
"There are a lot of big names on that (Dallas) roster and for us to be successful we needed to do a lot of the little things right. I think everyone played an unbelievable game... It was a really good team effort through and through.”
"We said we wanted to come out strong because we knew they played last night, but they came out skating hard and I don't think we were ready for them."
• Jan. 31, 2010: PHX 4, DAL 2
• Feb. 6, 2010:
• March 21, 2010: