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Jagr nets two as Dallas defeats Phoenix

The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- Loui Eriksson netted the game-winner with 6:55 left in the third period as the Dallas Stars handed the Phoenix Coyotes a 4-3 defeat before a sellout crowd of 18,532 at American Airlines Center.

Eriksson found the back of the net for the first time this season with a well-placed wrister from the slot after a great pass from new Dallas teammate Jaromir Jagr, who had two goals and an assist in the win. Eriksson had assisted on Jagr's first tally of the night, which came with 1:24 left in the opening period.

"Yeah, it's a pretty good one (debut by Jagr)," Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I don't think you could ask much more, a 4-3 win and four points from Jags, the reason we got two (goals) tonight."

Phoenix was paced offensively by Radim Vrbata, who had two goals and an assist in a losing effort. After Dallas led 1-0 at the first intermission, the Coyotes scored two unanswered, both coming on the power play with one from Lauri Korpikoski and the other by Vrbata to lead 2-1 with 8:07 left in the second period.

"That's what he does. He's an opportunistic guy," Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett said of Vrbata's performance. "When he finds opportunities, he can usually capitalize on them and that's what you saw tonight."

However, Jagr's second tally of the night with 1:22 left before the second intermission made it 2-2 heading into the final period, a frame that Dallas opened on the power play. Just 31 seconds into the third, Stars winger Ray Whitney, another of the club's key offseason additions, made Phoenix pay, putting Dallas ahead 3-2 after burying an 18-footer in the back of the visiting net.

"Well, it was special," Jagr said of making his Dallas debut. "Always the first game is special. It was strange. We had only one week in training camp. I've got to get used to new teammates too. Hopefully it's going to get better and better."

Vrbata tied it yet again at 3-3 just 3:30 into the final period, scoring on a breakaway after Dallas defenseman Jordie Benn lost possession of the puck in his own end. The Stars won their third straight season opener while Phoenix lost its opener for just the second time in seven seasons.

"Well, it was the first game. I think nobody knew what to expect. It was a game of mistakes. We just made one more than them or they just capitalized on one more than we did," Vrbata said. "Those were mistakes that we don't usually make. Hopefully we will learn from that."

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