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Vrbata scores, adds two assists to lead Coyotes past Stars 5-2

GLENDALE, Ariz. - If the Phoenix Coyotes make a playoff run, they will need the scoring of winger Radim Vrbata.

Leading the team in goals and second in points, Vrbata scored a short-handed goal and added two assists to help the Phoenix Coyotes snap a four-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

Vrbata's goal was his 25th of the season and 100th of his career. The three-point game was Vrbata's third of the season. He had four points Jan. 24 against Nashville.

The win also broke Dallas' seven-game winning streak. This was the fourth time in franchise history the Dallas/Minnesota North Stars recorded seven straight victories.

"That was a big goal of the game," Vrbats said of his short-handed tally. "Dallas was coming back in the third and that gave us a three-goal lead. We could breathe a little easier."

The score came just over 5 minutes into the third period and gave Phoenix a 4-1 lead.

"We really didn't do enough to win," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "The bottom line is to compete at this level, you have to be desperate and we did not play with any desperation."

Phoenix struck first when captain Shane Doan, crashing in from the left faceoff circle, ripped Steven Recinprecht's pass behind goalie Marty Turco on the power play at 11:29 of the first period.

The Stars tied it just over 2 minutes later. Jussi Jokinen stole the puck from defenceman Keith Yandle in the Phoenix right faceoff circle, quickly turned and whipped the puck past a surprised Ilya Bryzgalov.

Phoenix regained the lead when Daniel Carcillo picked up a loose puck behind the Dallas net, angled himself at the left goal post, and beat Turco to the short side with 3:28 left. That was Carcillo's first goal since Dec. 16 against the Rangers. He missed 14 games with a knee injury and another four rehabbing in the minors.

The Coyotes upped their lead to 3-1 when Niko Kapanen poked in a rebound with 1:18 left in the second period. After Turco left Craig Weller's shot just outside the crease, Kapanen capitalized for his eighth of the season.

Afterward, the Stars' Mike Modano emphasized Dallas did not execute and finish plays.

"We need to compete at a higher level," he said. "We cannot rely on play-making, and skill will not win many games."

Dallas did cut the margin to two goals when defenceman Matt Niskanen's wrist shot from the right point eluded Bryzgalov at 9:22. The Coyotes' Nick Boynton finished the scoring with an empty-net goal with a minute remaining.

While Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky was pleased with the outcome, he said the Coyotes must continue to play a complete 60-minute game.

"We want to turn over four lines as much as possible." he said. "We must continue our relentless forechecking because that's the way we need to play."

Notes: Vrbata had his second two-assist game. The other was Dec. 19 at New Jersey. ... The Stars are playing without Sergi Zubov. The all-star defenceman is week-to-week with a groin injury. ... Turco was seeking his 200th NHL win.


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