Pre-Olympic surge continues for Stars

Not even the always-tough Phoenix Coyotes could slow down the Dallas’ Stars push to finish their stretch of games before the NHL’s break for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics as Dallas beat the Coyotes 3-1 in Glendale on Tuesday night.

Following a scoreless opening period, Phoenix took the lead 9:18 into the second when Andrew Vermette scored an unassisted goal to give the home side a 1-0 lead. But that edge lasted all of 3:14 as the Stars pulled the game level when Shawn Horcoff scored on the power play at 12:32 of the second.

The game remained tied until early in the third when Antoine Roussel pulled the Stars ahead for good 3:25 into the final frame. Ryan Garbutt, who had a goal and an assist in the game, added an empty netter with less than a minute left and Dallas was set to head to San Jose, where they will face the Sharks on Wednesday, looking to end their road trip a perfect 3-0-0.

"That was a big win for us tonight. Had the dads in town and that was a fun game for the guys that played and it’s kind of nice for us to be on a roll right now," Garbutt said.

But for first-year Stars head coach Lindy Ruff, seeing his team win on the road against a Phoenix team that continues to be typified by not giving the opposition a lot in the way of legitimate scoring chances even though Dallas finished with 40 shots, is a huge plus for the veteran NHL head coach.

"Tonight’s a tough game, it could have gone either way and in the third period, it’s a 1-1 game. I think we probably generated five or six really good opportunities and were able to push through. It’s a little of what we talked about this morning," Ruff said. "Somebody’s going to take advantage of an opportunity and win a game and I thought we were able to push through."

However, the man who netted the eventual game-winner for the Stars in Roussel, whose first NHL goal also happened to come against the Coyotes at American Airlines Center last season, felt the key to this win was he and his teammates stealing a page out of Phoenix’s playbook down the stretch.

"I felt like the last 10 minutes, we locked them down. We didn’t give them much," Roussel said. "We gave a couple chances still, but we tried to limit their chances and that worked well for us."

Of course, it always helps the Stars’ cause when Lehtonen, who delivered his latest in a string of stellar performances between the pipes this season, is at the top of his game, which he clearly was against Phoenix, stopping 27 of 28 shots to earn his 21st win of the season.

"Yeah, if you’re winning games, it doesn’t matter what the score is. So just going to come out and battle every night. If you’re in those close games, you have to battle even harder and it’s pretty easy when you have a goalie like Kari Lehtonen in net," Garbutt said.

Ruff wouldn’t commit to a starting goaltender for Wednesday’s game in San Jose during his remarks to the media postgame, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Lehtonen get the nod for a second straight night.