Stars-Coyotes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 08, 2013
Dallas' power-play unit is starting to find its rhythm, and not surprisingly, the Stars are quickly accumulating goals and points. The Phoenix Coyotes are struggling to keep opponents from scoring, regardless of how many skaters are on the ice. The Stars try to build on another strong performance and win their third in a row Saturday night in Phoenix. With a 5-2 victory over Los Angeles on Thursday, Dallas (12-9-2) reached the four-goal mark for the fourth time in five games. It had scored four - excluding shootout goals - in four if its first 18. Jaromir Jagr scored twice for his first multigoal game since getting two goals and two assists in a 4-3 win over Phoenix in the season opener. Cody Eakin, Brenden Morrow and Antoine Roussel added one goal apiece Thursday. Jagr and Eakin both scored on the power play, a unit which is really starting to come together for the Stars. They're 7 for 22 (31.8 percent) since Feb. 23, going 4-1-1, after converting 9 of 60 chances (15.0 percent) with the man advantage to start the season. "The first 15 games we kind of stumbled on the power play, but lately we are doing a lot better job," said Jagr, who has a team-high nine goals after scoring four in the past three games. "It's important in a short season, the games are so tight and the special teams are going to win the games for you." The Coyotes (11-10-3) have been pretty solid when they're down a man, killing 86.5 percent (32 of 37) of penalties over the last month. It's the times they're at even strength when they've been having problems. Phoenix, a point back of Dallas, is coming off Thursday's 6-3 loss to St. Louis - the fifth time in seven games it surrendered at least four goals. Of the 27 scores it has yielded in those games, only three have come when a man down. "If you're giving up four, five or six goals a game, you're not going to win no matter how good of an offense you have," winger David Moss told the Coyotes' official website. "We are a team that should be comfortable in those tight, little scoring games and right now we're giving up too many chances in the house area. It's killing us." The first two goals the Blues scored came off rebounds after Phoenix failed to clear. "There were times, if you look at the game, where they're scoring goals with red jerseys around," coach Dave Tippett said. "We're just not doing much. That's concerning. "We'll continue to address it, but if it doesn't get cleaned up, we'll have to try different options." Although the defense in front of him has been shaky, Mike Smith still needs to come up with more stops. He is 3-3-0 with a 4.29 goals-against average in his last six starts. Smith's .894 save percentage is the worst among Western Conference goaltenders to have made at least 13 starts. He made 17 saves in a 2-0 home win over the Stars on Feb. 2 after yielding seven goals in losing the season's first two meetings - both in Dallas. Martin Hanzal, tied with Shane Doan for the team lead with seven goals despite playing just 15 games due to injuries, has two scores and two assists in the three games versus the Stars. Dallas' Kari Lehtonen, who has made three straight starts after missing five games with a lower-body injury, has a 1.64 GAA in five starts at Phoenix since 2010-11.
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