PHOENIX (TICKER) —America West Arena remains a home away from home for the Dallas Stars.
Jere Lehtinen scored the go-ahead goal early in the second period and Ron Tugnutt made 18 saves as the Stars extended their road unbeaten streak to an NHL season-high eight games with a 3-1 triumph over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Ulf Dahlen ended a long scoring drought and Rob DiMaio had the other goal for Dallas, which is 6-0-2 on the road since a loss at Nashville on December 26. The Stars also improved to 7-2-2 in Phoenix since the 1998-99 season.
“Tonight, we wanted to play real solid, which has been the one constant (on the road),” Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. “We don’t want to take a lot of chances, we don’t want to put the puck in the wrong place. Tonight, we stressed a lot of backchecking.”
The teams traded tallies in a 61-second span of the first period before Lehtinen got his third goal in as many games 5:24 into the second.
Coyotes defenseman Teppo Numminen lost the puck to Bill Guerin, who made a behind-the-back pass to Lehtinen. The Finnish winger snapped a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle over the left shoulder of goaltender Brian Boucher for his 22nd of the season.
Phoenix had a chance to tie in the third period, but Ladislav Nagy curled a shot off the right goalpost. In the final seconds of the opening period, Mike Johnson had an open net during a power play but put a rebound off the same post.
“We couldn’t capitalize on the few chances that we had, and that was the difference,” Coyotes coach Bob Francis said. “We hit some posts and some missed shots and some deflections and some bad bounces. Luck is the residue of hard work.”
Once they got the lead, the Stars limited Phoenix to one shot in the first 14 minutes of the third period.
“I can’t say enough about how well we played in our end,” Tugnutt said. “The only goal they got was a rebound and it was a pretty good performance by us. Everybody in general came in here with the philosophy, `Let’s not give them much.’ We stayed on them all night.”
Both teams had 10 shots in the first period and Dahlen gave Dallas the lead at 8:20 with his first goal since November 27.
Coyotes defenseman Martin Grenier could not keep the puck at the left point and fellow rookie Niko Kapanen sped by him through the neutral zone. He wristed a shot that was stopped by Boucher, but Dahlen popped in the rebound to end a 12-game drought.
“It was kinda nice to finally get one again,” said Dahlen, who sat out 17 games due to a knee injury. “I had pretty much missed seven weeks with the injury, so when you come back, it is like going back to training camp. I’ve been feeling a little bit better and it’s nice to get the goal.”
Boucher also was coming back from an injury and stopped 25 shots in his first start since December 26.
“You couldn’t fault him on either one,” Francis said. “He wasn’t the reason we lost.”
Paul Ranheim lifted Phoenix into a 1-1 tie just over a minute after Dahlen’s goal. Brad May came out from behind the net and whipped a pass through the slot to Ranheim, who made good on his second shot for his second goal of the season and second in as many games.
“We had a few chances in the first period, but in the second and the third, they really shut us down,” Francis said. “I am proud of the way the guys performed. It was the third game in four nights (for us), but they have been sitting here, waiting for us since Thursday. So we knew it would be a difficult challenge.”