By Dave Vest
DALLAS – Playing their second road game in less than 24 hours, the Coyotes couldn’t muster their signature high compete level and solid defensive play on Saturday and lost 4-0 to the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.
The Coyotes (38-19-5), who win games by outworking teams, had little energy when the puck dropped at 5 p.m. and the rested Stars took advantage.
"Our whole group looked tired tonight without a doubt," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "(Friday) night's game (at Chicago) took a huge toll on us. We went to overtime, then late travel. And you've got a fresh team sitting here, you know they're going to come hard at you."
Stars rookie Jamie Benn scored two goals and Marty Turco made 34 saves for Dallas (26-21-11), which beat the Coyotes for the first time in four tries this season.
The loss was Phoenix’s first in a fortnight, and it snapped its season-high six-game winning streak and slightly soured an otherwise productive road trip on which the Coyotes earned six points with victories in Dallas, Nashville and Chicago.
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov allowed four goals within the first 27 minutes of the game. The defeat was his first since Jan. 23 at Washington.
Phoenix’s power-play unit, which entered the game ranked in 25th in the NHL at 16.5 percent, was noticeably ineffective (0 for 6).
Leading 1-0, Stars forward Loui Eriksson scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway at 18:33 of the first period.
The Coyotes had a good chance to pull within a goal in the first 30 seconds of the second period, but Turco thwarted a two-on-one rush by Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata by making a nice pad save on a shot by Vrbata from the right side.
Benn then scored his goals within a 4:10 span of the second period and the Coyotes were done.
Turco's shutout was the 39th of his NHL career.
"He was strong, he made some real big saves," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. "The guys did a good job of cleaning up in front of him and when it did get by, he was athletic enough to reach behind and make that second save."
The key moment of a hockey game typically doesn’t happen in the first four minutes. That was the case on Saturday, however, as the Stars scored the game’s first goal against a tired Coyotes team to set the tone for a long night for Phoenix. Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov didn’t play at Chicago on Friday night and his fatigued teammates needed him to be outstanding on Saturday. The goal he allowed to Stars forward James Neal at 3:36 seemed to deflate the Coyotes.
• The Coyotes have four games left before the NHL breaks for the Winter Olympics. Two of the four games are at home and two are on the road.
• Enforcer Paul Bissonnette fought Dallas tough guy Krystofer Barch early in the third period. It was Bissonnette’s 15th bout of the season and his first since Jan. 7.
• Forward Petr Prucha drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on Stars goalie Marty Turco in the second period by confronting Turco after Turco nudged him with an elbow after a whistle. After receiving the elbow, Prucha double-backed and skated up to Turco, and Turco chest-bumped him hard enough to draw a call.
• The Coyotes won only 34 percent of 61 faceoffs, and were outhit by the Stars 42-19.
• The Coyotes scratched Anders Eriksson and Joel Perrault. The Stars scratched Mark Fistric.
"Our power play has struggled for the last three games... We've only gotten one goal in the last three games and managed to get two wins out of it somehow. We've just got to be better and we know it."
"We didn't play very smart. Whether that was because of fatigue or not, I'm not really sure... We turned the pucks over and made ourselves work more than we had to.”
"Tonight was our best performance by everybody in a long time. There wasn't anything that was missing for us. And when we score four goals, I like our odds."
• Jan. 31, 2010: PHX 4, DAL 2
• Feb. 6, 2010: DAL 4, PHX 0
• March 21, 2010: