GLENDALE, Ariz. – After scoring his first NHL goal, Phoenix Coyotes centre Rob Klinkhammer turned left and then right in search of a teammate to celebrate with.
“I was just looking for someone to hug,” Klinkhammer said after the Coyotes beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 on Saturday night. “I was so surprised.”
Klinkhammer entered the night having played 16 career games, all but one with the Ottawa Senators. His 14 goals and 30 assists in 52 games with Portland of the AHL earned Klinkhammer his second call-up of the season and his first career appearance with the Coyotes.
“We’ve been looking for ways to get him in,” coach Dave Tippett said. “He’s a solid player, strong on the wall and gives a good forecheck down there.”
Shane Doan scored his team-leading eighth goal for the Coyotes, who snapped a two-game losing streak and vaulted ahead of Dallas and San Jose into third place in the Pacific Division.
“It’s been a while since we played a game like that,” Smith said. “Any win is nice, but it was nice to do it the right way like we always talk about.”
Doan’s goal came at the end of a play in which four of the six Coyotes on the ice touched the puck in a handful of seconds.
Steve Sullivan carried the puck into the Dallas zone, stopped in the left circle, and sent a pass back to the streaking Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson spun right to avoid the Stars defence and passed to Antione Vermette behind the net, who then fed the puck back to Doan at the right edge of the crease for the goal.
Solid passing also led to Klinkhammer’s goal.
Dave Moss forced a turnover behind the Dallas net, and Ben Gordon intercepted a pass near the bottom of the right circle. With Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen shading right, Gordon slid the puck to an open Klinkhammer for the goal into the vacated left side to make it 2-0 at 7:31 of the second.
“It was just a whirlwind, but I’m loving every minute of it,” said Klinkhammer, who arrived in Phoenix at 3 a.m. “I couldn’t ask for it to happen any better.”
Jagr pulled Dallas within 2-1 at 18:19, beating Smith with a blast from the top of the right circle with 17 seconds left in Dallas’ first of two 5-on-3 power plays.
“We got one goal but I think we needed to get one before that,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “Being down 2-0 against these guys, it’s not easy to come back.”
Dallas had an 89-second, 5-on-3 opportunity midway through the third period but were unable to solve Smith, who had allowed 14 goals in his past three starts.
“We had a 5-on-3 for almost two minutes in the third and that was our chance to get back in the game,” Stars defenceman Stephane Robidas said. “That kind of gives them momentum to win the game.”
Stars centre Jamie Benn left the game with 1:27 after he was levelled by a check between the circles by Martin Hanzal. No penalty was called on the play, and Benn eventually skated off the ice and walked to the dressing room.
“I thought it was late but it’s not for me to decide,” Gulutzan said.
NOTES: Doan has 31 goals and 37 assists in 97 games against the Stars. … Coyotes C Matthew Lombardi, who aggravated an upper body injury in Phoenix’s loss to St. Louis on Thursday, was out of the lineup. LW Radim Vrbata also was out for the 10th straight game because of a lower body injury. … Stars LW Brenden Morrow was scratched due to a groin injury sustained late in a win against Los Angeles on Thursday.