Coyotes’ rookies Domi, Duclair, Gaudet eclipse Stars

GLENDALE, Ariz. — At 57 games into the NHL season, this is the time of year the kids are supposed to hit the wall.

On Thursday night, they busted right through the darn thing.

Against a high-powered Dallas Stars team known as perhaps the league’s fastest and most-skilled, it was Max Domi and Anthony Duclair who stole the show, leading the Arizona Coyotes to a 6-3 victory.

Domi had two goals and an assist and Duclair had three assists — all in the second period — to give the Coyotes their first two-game winning streak since Jan. 23 and 25.

Two other rookies made major contributions as well. Louis Domingue made 36 saves, including several at point-blank range, and Tyler Gaudet scored his first career goal — a decisive one to make it 5-3 midway through the third period and coming just 41 seconds after the Stars had pulled back within one goal.

The six goals matched the Coyotes’ season-high total from Monday night’s 6-2 win over Montreal. The 12 goals in back-to-back games is the most for the team since Dec. 3-5, 2005, when they followed an 8-4 victory over Carolina with a 5-2 win over Atlanta.

The Coyotes (27-24-6) remained 10th in the Western Conference standings with 60 points — four behind eighth place Colorado and two behind Minnesota, which also won on Thursday night.

Domi’s goals were his 14th and 15th of the season, but his first since scoring a hat trick against Edmonton on Jan. 12 — 15 games ago. He’s up to 39 points on the season, and his linemate Duclair now has 33 (16 goals and 17 assists). Their center, Martin Hanzal, had a goal, two assists and a key screen on Michael Stone’s second-period goal.

The common demoninator in both of Domi’s goals was the breakneck pace he and Duclair play at when they’re clicking, and the chemistry they have together and now with Hanzal.

"It was fun out there," Domi said. "That’s a fast team, and we had to play fast in order to keep up with them. When you’re playing with those two guys; Duclair was flying tonight and Marty was unbelievable. So you just kind of follow suit and it was pretty easy when you got those two guys going."

Coyotes 6, Stars 3

Said Duclair: "We knew that they were a high-skilled forward team. It was a lot of back and forth skating, so it worked out pretty well for us."

As for the so-called rookie wall, Domi acknowledged the difficulty of navigating the long NHL season, but he’s doing his best to push through.

"You could have asked me that like 20 games ago," he said. "I hit the wall pretty hard there. It’s not an easy league by any means, and this is where it gets really hard . You just got to find a way to get ready for every game.

"Shane Doan had a  nice little meeting with everyone and said pretty much that anyone can play the first 41 games, but it’s a matter of getting up for the second half. That’s when your excitement runs out for making the NHL, and if you want to be an established NHL player, you’ve got to find a way to make that push."

The Coyotes finished with a season-high 42 shots on goal, including a season-high 19 shots in a first period that ended with a 1-0 deficit, thanks to Tyler Seguin’s 31st goal of the season.

The Coyotes took the lead with three goals in the second period.

Domi’s first came when Duclair threaded a long pass through the Stars defense, and he maneuvered past Jason Demers at full speed and back-handed the puck past Antti Niemi.

Jamie Benn’s power-play goal put the Stars back in front, but the Coyotes tied it up 51 seconds later when Stone blasted a shot from the point that deflected off a Dallas player and into the net, with the help of a Hanzal screen in front of Niemi.

Domi’s second goal at 18:26 in the second gave the Coyotes a lead they would never relinquish, but it was rookie linemate who did all the hard work. Domi chipped the puck to Duclair as he raced down the ice at full speed. Niemi knocked away his shot attempt, but Domi was right behind him to put away the rebound.

"That was ridiculous," Domi said. "I thought I was going pretty fast, and he just blew by me. He’s definitely a freak out there, but it’s fun to watch and he’s definitely a guy you want on your team."

The two teams exchanged three goals in a rapid-fire two-minute sequence in the third period.

Hanzal made it 4-2 with a back-handed rebound of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s shot on the power play, but Dallas pulled back within one on Ales Hemsky’s goal at 8:33.

It was Gaudet who tallied the decisive goal, taking a nice pass from Kyle Chipchura, charging the net and slipping the puck through Niemi’s pads at the 9:14 mark. Dallas pulled Niemi for an extra attacker with more than two minutes to play, but Antoine Vermette’s empty-netter at 18:14 extinguished their hopes.

"It’s great to see a young player like that who works as hard as he has, and not just in tonight’s game," coach Dave Tippett said of Gaudet. "If you look at how hard that kid has worked to get to this level, to get rewarded with a goal is great to see the look on his face. His teammates are all happy for him. Those are special moments."