GLENDALE, Ariz. – One shot is all the Dallas Stars figured they would get on a power play with 13 seconds left in regulation.
Turned out to be all they needed.
Jamie Benn scored a power-play goal with 4.8 seconds left after Phoenix tied it with two late goals, lifting the Dallas Stars to a wild 3-2 win over the Coyotes on Tuesday night.
“We were trying to find a way to end,” Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. “We knew we might get one chance before the period ended and he cashed in.”
Dallas appeared to be in control, ahead 2-0 on goals by Tom Wandell in the first period and Jamie Langenbrunner in the third.
Just like they did against Chicago on Sunday, the Coyotes came roaring back, getting goals by new defenceman Rostislav Klesla and veteran winger Ray Whitney in the final four minutes.
Benn made sure Dallas didn’t come away disappointed, taking advantage of a hooking penalty on Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata with 13 seconds left by scoring on a one-timer from Loui Eriksson to give their Stars their third straight win after losing nine of 10.
“I was thinking we better score here,” Benn said after his 14th and perhaps most important goal of the season. “I think it’s a big goal.”
The Coyotes have struggled with penalties during a recent slide, being called for too many and not being able to kill them off. This one, coming so late and after rallying from a two-goal deficit, might be the toughest to swallow.
“I think we’ve got to look at it right in the teeth and say what’s going on,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “That’s two games this week we’ve lost to penalties. At some point, we’ve got to get it, look it straight in the face and take the challenge. We better or it’s not a good thing.”
Dallas kept quiet at the trade deadline while most of the Western Conference contenders made moves.
The Stars looked into dealing leading scorer Brad Richards before deciding to stick what they’ve got for the playoff push. Richards missed his seventh straight game with concussion-like symptoms, though he’s expected to be available Friday against Anaheim.
After a 1-8-1 stretch, the Stars have started to play better even without Richards, beating Detroit and Nashville to remain in the Western Conference playoff picture.
They kept it up for most of the game against the struggling Coyotes.
Wandell got it started with his fifth goal of the season late in the first period, one-timing a tough-angle shot from the left circle after Toby Petersen fished the puck away from Coyotes defenceman Michal Rozsival near the side of the net.
Langenbrunner seemed to put Dallas well on its way to winning late in the third, getting a good break and his eighth goal when a shot by Steve Ott caromed off his skate past Ilya Brzygalov.
Phoenix fought its way back, though, and quickly.
Klesla, picked up in a trade with Columbus to shore up the defence with Ed Jovanovski out, provided an offensive lift in his first game since Jan. 11, scoring with 3:39 left to give Phoenix hope. The Coyotes kept up the pressure and broke through again with 38 seconds left, when Whitney brought the crowd to its feet and tied the game on a one-timer from Shane Doan.
The euphoria didn’t last.
Vrbata was called for hooking 25 seconds later and Benn made them pay, beating Brzygalov glove side to send the frustrated Coyotes—Derek Morris and Keith Yandle were hit with 10-minute misconduct penalties after Benn’s goal—to their fourth straight loss.
“It’s an awful way to lose a game,” Doan said.
Notes: Phoenix C Eric Belanger has played in all 65 games this season and is one away from 700 for his career. … Dallas D Nicklas Grossman missed his seventh straight game with a hip injury. … Dallas has not lost in regulation (18-0-2) when leading after two periods since Oct. 31, 2009 against Nashville.