DALLAS (AP) — John Klingberg and Cody Eakin gave the Dallas Stars a much-needed fast start to the third period on Thursday night.
Klingberg and Eakin scored 33 seconds apart in the opening minute of the final period to give the Stars their first lead and Jason Spezza scored later in the third to rallying Dallas to a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.
Ales Hemsky had two assists as Dallas ended a seven-game home losing streak (0-5-2), winning for just the second time in 11 home games (2-5-4).
Klingberg’s goal from the slot was his first in the NHL, in his sixth game, and tied the score 19 seconds into the period.
“We’ve had a rough way here, so it felt good to score the goal, and it was a big goal for us,” Klingberg said.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the team fed off the rookie defenseman’s goal.
“It lit the building up,” Ruff said. “It was something our fans needed, something we needed. I think that energy from our crowd helped us with the next one right away.”
Eakin then tipped Trevor Daley’s shot from the blue line over Arizona goalie Mike Smith at 52 seconds to put the Stars ahead.
Spezza made it 3-1 with 4:18 remaining as he skated behind the net, came out on the left side and shot into the net to give his team and goalie Kari Lehtonen some breathing room.
But it was the Klingberg goal that had people talking.
“Spezza said, ‘Just stay right behind me.’ The puck does not come to that place so many times,” Klingberg said. “Then I saw (Ales) Hemsky put it up to me. I just saw the keeper falling down and it was a good screen so I just aimed for the right side of the goal.”
Arizona coach Dave Tippett said, “A missed assignment on a faceoff, pure and simple. Come out for the third period, we win the neutral faceoff. We end up icing it and just a bad missed assignment on a faceoff. Turned the game right around.”
Lehtonen, who finished with 26 saves, had a personal turnaround. He was removed from Tuesday’s loss to Carolina after giving up four goals in the second period. Against the Coyotes, he gave up only Lauri Korpikoski’s rebound goal with 5:39 left in the first period.
“You try especially hard after a bad outing like that,” Lehtonen said. “Maybe keep it more simple and try to play each shift as their own. It wears a little bit more on you, but that’s what you have to do.”
The Coyotes, who lost for the fifth straight time in Dallas, dominated the early play. When Korpikoski scored on the power play, the Coyotes had outshot Dallas 9-4. The Stars put the final five shots on goal to finish the period 9-9.
Dallas appeared to tie the score with 5:22 left in the second, when Eakin redirected a pass from Travis Moen past Smith. However, the referees ruled that Brenden Dillon had remained in the blue area in front of the net too long.
The score remained 1-0 after the second period, when the Coyotes outshot the Stars 10-9.
NOTES: The Stars started players from five countries — Dillon and Spezza (Canada), Lehtonen (Finland), Klingberg (Sweden), Hemsky (Czech Republic) and Antoine Roussel (France). … RW Patrick Eaves returned after missing three games because of a foot injury. .. C Ryan Garbutt (upper-body injury) is expected to be out for a week. Garbutt scored the winning goal, short-handed, in Dallas’ 4-3 victory Nov. 11 at Arizona. … Coyotes C Martin Hanzal (lower body) missed his second game. … Gagner’s assist was the 200th of his career. … Arizona is 2-5-1 in games with three or fewer goals scored. Dallas is 2-1-1. … Smith is 7-5-5 against his former team.
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