By Alan Robinson, The Sports Xchange
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Finally, Arizona’s top line played well enough for the Coyotes to win. The only problem was the Dallas Stars’ best line was even better — especially in a third period filled with goals and numerous scoring chances.
Tyler Seguin scored twice in the third period after Dallas twice gave up leads, and the Stars withstood a pair of goals from both Derek Stepan and rookie Clayton Keller to beat the still-winless Arizona Coyotes 5-4 on Thursday night.
Arizona was swept in both ends of the back-to-back with Dallas, also losing 3-1 on Tuesday, to fall to 0-6-1. The Coyotes remain the NHL’s only winless team.
“I thought we played well enough to win,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. “The Seguin line was a killer. Those guys are talented guys, they’re elite players.”
Jamie Benn scored his third of the season and assisted on both Seguin goals as Dallas (4-3-0) won for the first time in three road games.
“I really liked how our big boys played,” Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Seguin said it was a sloppy game at times, but Dallas goalie Ben Bishop said, “At the end of the day, you’ve got to be happy with your big guys stepping up like that. … We don’t want to be giving up those chances in the third period, but we stuck with it and we got some big shots by some big players.”
Stepan, acquired in the offseason to give the Coyotes the quality No. 1 center they have long lacked, and Keller, 19, had three points each for the Coyotes, who are off to the worst start in franchise history.
“I know it hurts now, but all good teams go through pain, and we’re going through some pain now,” Tocchet said.
There were some gains but a lot of pain for Arizona in the decisive third period.
Stephen Jones scored for the first time in 39 games to give Dallas a 3-2 lead early in the third, but Keller — scoring multiple goals for the second time in four games — got loose on a short breakaway to tie it at 6:41.
“He’s a special player. He’s not the biggest guy, but when he gets the puck around the net, he knows how to get it in,” Bishop said of the 5-foot-10 Keller, who trains with the goalie in St. Louis during the offseason.
The Coyotes subsequently gave up a goal within two minutes of scoring for the eighth time already this season, and the second time in the game. Benn’s shot from the slot deflected off the crossbar and behind rookie goalie Adin Hill (26 saves), and Seguin punched it into the net 8:20 into the third.
Seguin, who centers the Stars’ top line, added his team-high fifth goal of the season with 2:54 remaining to make it 5-3 before Keller likewise got his team-high fifth with 22 seconds to play.
“Our line, we’ve showed some flashes of it (this season),” Seguin said of a unit that includes Benn and right winger Alexander Radulov. “The third period, we put it all together. … A road game and we got two points, that’s how we’re leaving here.”
Stepan, a former New York Rangers center, scored his first goal for Arizona 5:50 into the first period by deflecting an Oliver Ekman-Larsson slap shot past Bishop, who stopped 27 of 31 shots. But much as they have all season, the Coyotes turned prosperity into adversity, leading to two easy Dallas goals.
Keller, who assisted on the Stepan goal, went off for hooking 25 seconds later. Benn quickly capitalized after being left alone in front following a Dallas faceoff win and scored his third of the season, at 6:23.
Only 41 seconds later, Stars right winger Tyler Pitlick’s centering pass found its way onto Coyotes defenseman Luke Schenn’s stick near the crease, and the puck went into the net before Hill could react. Radek Faksa was credited with the goal.
“A couple of tough-luck goals,” Tocchet said.
Stepan got his second of the game by putting in the rebound of his own back-to-the-net deflection 2:47 into the second.