Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 2/19/12
GLENDALE, Ariz. Radim Vrbata doesn't do insignificant goals any more. "Just the big ones," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. None was bigger than Saturday's overtime score that gave the streaking Phoenix Coyotes a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars at Jobing.com Arena. It was the Coyotes' seventh win in their last eight games and gave them 15 points over that stretch. Phoenix is now just two points behind first-place San Jose in the Pacific Division (the Sharks have three games in hand), leading to the once-unthinkable thought that the Coyotes could win the division. "That's one way to get to the playoffs," said Vrbata, whose game-winner was a thing of beauty off a side-of-the-net feed from Ray Whitney. Vrbata deked, waited until the last possible second -- "maybe a little longer," he said-- and then, with Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen sprawled on the ice, roofed a shot from near the goal line for his career-high 28th goal. "That's what really good goal scorers do," coach Dave Tippett said. "Great play by Whitney to anticipate the play behind the net, and Vrbata, seems like every time he's got an opportunity like that this year, he's made it count." Vrbata is tied with Detroit's Johan Franzen for the NHL lead with 10 game-winning goals. More incredibly, he's scored the winner for the Coyotes in four of their last six games. "I don't know what to say about it," he said. "Lately, it seems like those are pretty important goals. It's the way I can help the team, so I'm happy about it." The Coyotes needed a lift in the worst way Saturday. Already playing without the services of forward Taylor Pyatt and defensemen Rostislav Klesla and Derek Morris, Phoenix lost center Martin Hanzal to a lower body injury in the second period and center Kyle Chipchura to what appeared to be a wrist injury in the third. Defenseman Keith Yandle gutted out a case of the stomach flu by pumping two IV bags into his system. He played more than 26 minutes. Compounding the injuries and illnesses was the fact that the Coyotes lacked the energy they showed Thursday in Los Angeles. "We kind of got away from our game a little bit," said goalie Mike Smith, who allowed one goal or fewer for the sixth straight game and finished with 30 saves. "We have to be a little more disciplined. We had (three) penalties in the second period. That's uncharacteristic of this team. But saying that, we found a way to get two points." Tippett said there's a good chance Hanzal and Pyatt could be back for Tuesday's rematch with L.A., but he sounded less optimistic about Klesla, Chipchura and Morris. That means the Coyotes will have to plug more holes as they try to maintain this torrid pace that has seen them climb from 12th in the Western Conference to within two points of sixth in the span of two weeks. "We're banged up here a little bit," Tippett said. "We're going to have to re-evaluate, and the two days off will do us some good because we've got another hard game on Tuesday. "The guys we have will have to do the job."
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