Sunday, January 20, 2013
Dallas Stars 4, Phoenix Coyotes 3
The Stars open the season with a huge regulation win at home.
DALLAS The Dallas Stars started off the lockout-shortened 2013 season right Saturday night at the American Airlines Center, defeating their divisional rival Phoenix Coyotes 4-3. The win put Dallas at 1-0-0 on the season with 47 games to go.
New offseason acquisition Jaromir Jagr was the unquestioned star of the game, scoring two goals and putting up two assists in a dominant performance. Jagr got the scoring started with less than two minutes remaining in the first period, taking a pass from linemate Loui Eriksson at the blue line and breaking in on Phoenix goalie and former Star Mike Smith alone. Jagr made a quick wrister that escaped Smith for his first goal as a Dallas Star, his 666th career goal and the 1-0 lead.
Phoenix stormed back in the second period, thanks to five consecutive penalties called on the Stars. Dallas killed off the first one, a double-minor for high-sticking to Philip Larsen, but on the next one, a questionable crosschecking penalty to rookie defenseman Brenden Dillon, both Dallas defenders got out of position in front of their own net. Star-killer Radim Vrbata got Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen to come out of his net before passing it to a wide-open Lauri Korpikoski, who buried it at the nine-minute mark for the 1-1 tie.
Three minutes later, with Brenden Morrow in the box for high sticking, Vrbata struck again to make it 2-1. Fortunately for Dallas, Vrbata was later called for another highly questionable holding call with less than four minutes remaining in the second, and fellow Czech countryman Jagr made him pay with his second goal of the night and the 2-2 tie heading into the third.
Ray Whitney, another 40 year old offseason acquisition for the Stars and the Coyotes' leading scorer last year, put Dallas ahead jsut thirty seconds into the third period with their second powerplay goal of the night. Jagr got the primary assist on Whitney's goal, and wasn't done yet. Three minutes after Whitney's goal, Vrbata got his second goal of the night when Stars rookie defenseman Jordie Benn coughed up the puck then lost himself at his own blue line. Vrbata skated in alone and got the puck past Lehtonen for the 3-3 tie.
With time running down and a likely overtime looming --an all-too-familiar outcome for Stars-Coyotes games since former Dallas coach Dave Tippett went to Phoenix-- Jagr, Eriksson and new center Derek Roy had an excellent shift, cycling the puck in the Coyotes' zone. After several missed opportunities, Jagr made a no-look behind-the-back backhand pass to the top of the crease, where Eriksson buried his first goal of the night for the 4-3 lead and the win. Jagr's four point night was his first in the NHL since 2008.
Lehtonen did not have a great night, giving up three goals on 40 shots, but he did make some stellar saves in the final two periods, where he faced 30 shots and some prime scoring chances. Mike Smith made 22 saves on 26 shots in the loss.
Dallas next travels to Minnesota tomorrow, where they will face the 1-0-0 Wild.