GLENDALE, Ariz. – David Schlemko and the Phoenix Coyotes made coach Dave Tippett’s first game against his former club a memorable one.
Schlemko scored his first career goal, Robert Lang had a goal and an assist and Ilya Bryzgalov made 26 saves to lead the Coyotes past the Dallas Stars 3-2 Saturday night.
“It was a special one for Coach Tippett,” said Schlemko, who two seasons ago was playing 90 minutes northwest of Phoenix for the Arizona Sundogs. “I think it felt good to get his old team.”
Tippett was near the top of the Stars’ career coaching records in multiple categories before he was fired at the end of last season. He was hired in September just days ahead of the Coyotes’ season opener after former coach Wayne Gretzky stepped down in the midst of the team’s bankruptcy issues.
“You’d be lying to say it wasn’t (special),” Tippett said. “First and foremost you come into the game and you want to prepare your team but you also know a lot of those people there very well. I was there for a long time. It’s not just coaching. It’s friendships.”
Radim Vrbata also scored for the Coyotes, who won for just the second time in six games.
“It’s a huge win to get out of that funk there,” Schlemko said.
Mike Modano had a goal and an assist and Matt Niskanen also scored for the Stars, who have lost two of three.
“We didn’t win the battles in front of the net and we didn’t win the battles of the faceoffs tonight,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “We didn’t have our best tonight. That happens sometimes.”
Schlemko broke a 1-1 tie with 24.3 seconds left in the second period when he took a pass from Vernon Fiddler and bounced a wrist shot off the inside of the left post from the left faceoff circle.
Vrbata extended Phoenix’s lead to 3-1 with 16:25 to go from the left side of the crease off a pass from Keith Yandle.
“I was so surprised to have an open net like that I almost missed it,” Vrbata said.
Niskanen pulled Dallas within 3-2 with a shot from the right point for the Stars’ only power-play goal in six opportunities.
The Stars’ James Neal bounced a possible tying goal off the right post with 9:45 left. Marty Turco left the ice with the Stars on the power play with 65 seconds left but Dallas managed only one shot on goal.
Lang opened the scoring 12 seconds into the second period when he backhanded a rebound past Turco from the low right slot.
Modano tied the game 1-1 at 6:12 of the second period on a sharp backhand shot from the right circle.
“Things seem to happen a lot easier when you get on a roll,” Turco said. “You don’t feel like you’re grinding it and others get on a roll and carry a team. But that hasn’t been the case for us.”
NOTES: Phoenix captain Shane Doan was awarded a penalty shot at 9:51 of the second period after he was hooked on a breakaway. Turco made a pad save of Doan’s attempt for his 13th save on 14 career penalty shots. … Announced attendance was 11,319, the Coyotes’ second five-figure crowd in a row. … Modano has 37 goals and 56 assists against the Coyotes, which represent both his high against any team and the most points scored against Phoenix by any active player. … Lang has goals in consecutive games for the first time this season.