By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – The Coyotes staggered into the lengthy break for the Winter Olympics with a 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars at Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night.
Stars goalie Marty Turco made 40 saves to blank Phoenix (37-21-5) for the second time in a week. Turco made 34 saves on Feb. 6 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas to key a 4-0 victory.
The defeat snapped Phoenix’s four-game home winning streak and sent the Coyotes, who have already matched last season’s points total (79), into a 16-day layoff with two consecutive losses in which they’ve scored one goal. Nevertheless, the vibe inside the Phoenix dressing room after the game remained positive.
“Our team has competed hard,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “I give our guys a ton of credit. Eight (wins) and three (losses) in this last stretch to go into the break, we’ve put ourselves in strong position coming out of the break… We’ve got a lot of players pushing here so we’ll have a good break and we’ll come out of it and we’ll be a better team for it. “
The Coyotes will enter the break in fourth place in the Western Conference standings with 19 games to play beginning March 2 vs. St. Louis.
Phoenix played down a forward for most of Saturday’s game after Petr Prucha was injured on his second shift (see ‘YOTES NOTES below).
Brandon Segal, playing his first game for Dallas after being claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, notched a goal and an assist. Jamie Benn and Toby Petersen scored the other goals for Dallas (28-21-12), which has beaten Phoenix twice in a row after losing the first three games the teams played this season.
The Coyotes outshot the Stars 40-22, but Turco was solid in front of the Dallas net.
Segal deflected a slap shot by teammate Trevor Daley from the right point past Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov at 5:54 of the second period to break a scoreless tie. The goal turned out to be the game-winner, thanks to Turco.
The Coyotes failed to score on three power plays. That extended their power-play drought to five games (0 for 19).
Trailing 2-0, Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata had a golden opportunity to pull Phoenix to within a goal midway through the third period after Stars goalie Marty Turco turned the puck over behind his net. Coyotes forward Daniel Winnik quickly gathered the loose puck and slid a pass to Vrbata in the low slot from the right corner. Vrbata wristed a shot on the empty net but it sailed wide to the left.
• Forward Petr Prucha suffered a frightening injury early in the first period. At 4:01, Dallas forward James Neal checked Prucha into the boards. Prucha's head appeared to hit the glass hard and he crumpled to the ice. Prucha lay motionless for several minutes and was eventually taken off the ice on a stretcher. He was transported to a nearby hospital, but he returned to the rink before the game ended and was seen walking outside the dressing room without assistance. After the game, team officials said Prucha was listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Neal was not penalized for his hit, but he ended up fighting Coyotes center Martin Hanzal later in the first period.
• Captain Shane Doan played 23:41, took seven shots on goal and delivered three hits. Defenseman Keith Yandle registered a game-high eight shots on goal.
• Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette and Dallas forward Krystofer Barch fought twice - once in the first period and once in the third period.
• The Coyotes scratched Mikkel Boedker, Anders Eriksson and Jeff Hoggan. The Stars scratched Jere Lehtinen and Keri Lehtonen.
• Because of the NHL break for the Winter Olympics, the Coyotes will not officially assemble again until a practice on Feb. 24. Meanwhile, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, and defensemen Zbynek Michalek and Sami Lepisto will fly to Vancouver on Sunday to join their Olympic teams. Bryzgalov will play for Russia, Michalek will play for the Czech Republic and Lepisto will play for Finland.
"We outshot them 40 to (22), so they got timely goals and we didn't. Sometimes it happens like that."
"We’re not happy. We would like to have more points you know, but that’s the way it is. It was a tough game tonight and I think we were tired from last night. It was just a tough game. They played a good game.”
"We know what we can do. Guys are stepping up. I said it earlier when we were struggling, and I think it applies now - it's an attitude... We have a better attitude."
• Jan. 31, 2010: PHX 4, DAL 2
• Feb. 6, 2010: DAL 4, PHX 0
• March 21, 2010:
• Nov. 14, 2009: PHX 3, DAL 2
• Nov. 27, 2009: PHX 5, DAL 2
• Feb. 13, 2010: DAL 3, PHX 0