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Arizona Coyotes end losing streak, ignite power play in win vs. Stars

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) celebrates a win over the Dallas Stars with defenseman Kevin Connauton (44) as time expires in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes needed what came of Saturday’s game against the Stars.

First and foremost, they needed a win. The Coyotes were on a five-game losing streak going into Saturday and hadn’t won since Jan. 22, prior to the All-Star break. In that span, they earned just one point by forcing OT against the Sharks coming out of the break.

Arizona also needed more out of its power play. They hadn’t scored a power play goal since Jan. 23 at Montreal and had been 0-for-17 since then.

The Coyotes accomplished both of those tasks in a 3-2 over Dallas, outshooting the Stars 39-35 as Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves. Arizona went 2-for-3 on the power play.

“It was an important win,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “We had to have this win tonight and it was a nice win. The Stars are fighting for a playoff spot, too. They’ve got some high-end guys, I thought we shut them down until the end.”

Wins and losses count the same in the standings at the beginning, middle and end of the season. But the recent stretch of losses for the Coyotes felt magnified by a playoff race where no team in the Western Conference seemed to be pulling away. Arizona was losing ground.

“Every game, I think we’ve lost the special teams battle probably for the last three or four,” Alex Goligoski said. “We’re obviously aware of it. So it’s nice to always get the power play going when you haven’t been scoring, and the flip side of that is our PK has been great all year but it’s kind of let us down the last few. We were solid there tonight, too. So that’s good confidence going forward.”

The win on Saturday stopped that bleeding as the Coyotes will turn it over to a new week, one that includes contests against the Vegas Golden Knights (third place in the Pacific Division), St. Louis Blues (currently occupying the second wild card spot in the Western Conference) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (third-highest goal differential in the NHL).

“We knew it was a big game,” Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. “Came out really good in the first period, played good in the second. Felt pretty comfortable all game and I thought the whole team played good, Kuemper back there made some good saves when we needed him.”

Meanwhile, Alex Galchenyuk scored two goals for the Coyotes for the second time since his trade to the desert. Since Dec. 23, Galchenyuk has played 20 games, scoring seven goals with nine assists for 16 points.

The Coyotes got on the board first when a faceoff win in the offensive zone on the power play resulted in a play in which Galchenyuk set up Goligoski for a goal. That made it 1-0 Coyotes in the first period and marked one of three points on the night for Galchenyuk.

In the second period, Galchenyuk would score his first of the night on the power play before tacking on a second goal — this one at even-strength — in the third period.

“That’s the stuff we need,” Tocchet said. “I’ve liked our game in San Jose and Dallas and stuff, we just couldn’t get that play at the end and Alex made those plays tonight. That’s the difference for us.”

Two Dallas goals just 27 seconds apart in the 16th minute of the third period ruined Keumper’s shutout and made things close, but the Coyotes held on for the win to snap the losing streak.

Arizona is now tied for fifth in the Western Conference wild card race with 53 points, just four points back of St. Louis.

“It was definitely a little bit of a dramatic ending there, but we talked about it. We knew they were going to keep going, keep going. We lost a game like that last time in Dallas. So we stick to it and guys in the end made a lot of great blocks and we’re happy about the win.”

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