Stars Defeat Coyotes
By Stephen Hunt, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — Prior to Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars had not won consecutive games this season.
But thanks to a goal and an assist each from Radek Faksa and Dan Hamhuis, and Ben Bishop stopping 27 of 28 shots, Dallas defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 at American Airlines Center for its second straight victory.
Alexander Radulov also scored for Dallas (3-3-0).
“I’m not pleased with the way we played, period. I don’t think we played very well,” Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. “From a continuity standpoint, this was our weakest performance. I don’t gauge it on wins and losses, I gauge it on continuity and team play, and we’ve got to be a lot better.”
Former Stars player Jason Demers had the lone goal for Arizona (0-5-1), which remains the lone winless team in the NHL.
The Coyotes have lost 10 consecutive games in Dallas.
One bright spot for Arizona was the strong play of goaltender Adin Hill, who stopped 31 of 33 shots in his NHL debut.
“I felt comfortable out there,” Hill said. “I thought I played a good game and I thought our team played a good game. We just came up a little short at the end. Just got to keep battling and fighting for that first win. Hopefully we can do it on Thursday.”
Faksa gave Dallas an early lead with his first goal of the season 5:17 into the opening period. He scored off a rebound after Hill denied Mattias Janmark’s attempt to score on a wraparound at the far post.
“I feel like we had chances,” Faksa said of his line. “We scored two goals. We got more confidence, and hopefully we’ll keep going.”
Hamhuis made it 2-0 midway through the second period with his first goal of the season from the left circle. Hamhuis received a Tyler Pitlick pass from behind the visiting net and one-timed the puck past Hill.
“First of all, it wasn’t even his (Hill’s) fault,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said regarding the Stars’ second goal. “Bad things are going to happen and he held it together, so that’s a real bright spot for us right now, is that he came in there and did a nice job for us.”
Arizona answered 5:20 before the second intermission when Demers beat Bishop far post on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle for his first goal of the season.
Hill delivered a highlight-reel save with 2:06 remaining in the second when he denied a Jason Spezza slap shot on a breakaway. Hill also turned away Spezza’s backhand off the ensuing rebound.
“He came in, had his head up and I just reacted,” Hill said of Spezza. “He took a quick shot five-hole and I dropped my knee, and then luckily the rebound went the way I was going, and I just slid across with him.”
Derek Stepan nearly tied the game with 6:52 remaining, but his wrist shot off the rush instead found the far post. Arizona outplayed Dallas in the third period, outshooting the Stars 15-9.
“We didn’t play our best game tonight. We were a little bit sloppy,” Hamhuis said. “But it’s a great sign for our team that we found a way to win. It’s the sign of a good team.”
Hill headed to the bench with 1:35 remaining. Radulov scored an empty-netter with 52 seconds remaining, his first goal with Dallas. The goal was briefly reviewed to determine if Radulov was offside, but the goal stood.
“I thought we pushed (in the third), did some good things, but we still didn’t get the job done,” Demers said. “We have a chance to win and tie it up. We just got to capitalize on those and we got to start burying those.”
One key sequence of the third period came early when Dallas put Arizona on the power play twice, including a 5-on-3 for 17 seconds. But Dallas killed off both chances. The Stars’ penalty kill is now 20-for-23 this season (87 percent), eighth-best in the NHL.
“Penalty kill was huge,” Bishop said. “That’s what you need. You’ve got to find different ways to win and tonight the penalty kill came up big, and I’ll take it.”