Today on FOX Sports Arizona: Coyotes vs. Stars, 6:15 p.m.
By MATT BEARDMORE
The Dallas Stars' impressive run at home ended the last time the Phoenix Coyotes were in town. A loss to the visiting Coyotes this time could have a far bigger impact on the Pacific Division race.
Dallas tries to avoid its first four-game skid in two seasons Wednesday night and cool off a Coyotes team coming off back-to-back shutout wins for the first time since 2003-04.
After averaging 3.5 goals during a 10-0-3 stretch at home from Oct. 30-Dec. 23, Dallas (30-18-5) had that streak snapped with a 1-0 loss to Phoenix (27-19-9) on Dec. 26.
While the Coyotes entered that game last in the Pacific and without a regulation win since a 5-2 victory over the visiting Stars on Dec. 11, they head into this matchup just two points off Dallas' division lead.
The Stars haven't been blanked since that last meeting, when Phoenix backup Jason LaBarbera stopped 30 shots, but Ilya Bryzgalov has shut out the Coyotes' last two opponents.
Bryzgalov made 26 saves in a 3-0 win over Colorado on Monday, two nights after making 25 in a 1-0 victory over Minnesota. Those wins follow a 2-6-0 slump during which Phoenix allowed at least four goals in each loss.
"Bryz has been solid and when he's had to make big saves, he has, but we've been more committed in front of him, playing stronger defense," said coach Dave Tippett, second in Stars history with 271 victories.
The Coyotes have a chance to post three consecutive shutouts for the first time since Brian Boucher's modern-day NHL record of five straight from Dec. 31, 2003-Jan. 9, 2004. Bryzgalov recorded three in a row with Anaheim in the 2006 playoffs.
"Right now, the way we are playing, a team has to earn it, make plays to score a goal, not give them a goal," said Bryzgalov, two shutouts shy of matching Nikolai Khabibulin's franchise record of 21. "When you take care of your net like we took care of ours the last two games, you increase your chances to win games."
The Stars need to start winning games following an 0-2-0 trip that ended with Saturday's 3-1 loss to Philadelphia. Dallas has the third-most points in the Western Conference but is just five ahead of ninth-place Los Angeles.
"You're in trouble if you start getting satisfied with losses," coach Marc Crawford told the Stars' official website. "Your job is to try and find a way."
Captain Brenden Morrow has been one of the few Stars producing lately with five goals in the past six games, but Dallas has lost five of them while getting outscored 28-13.
The Stars are 1 for 21 on the power play during that stretch.
"We put in probably four good periods in the last two games, that doesn't add up to many wins," Morrow said.
Dallas, which last dropped four straight during an 0-5-2 skid March 17-30, 2009, also needs better goaltending to prevent a free-fall down the West standings.
Kari Lehtonen is 1-4-0 with a 3.73 goals-against average in his last five starts while backup Andrew Raycroft has a 7.93 GAA in his last three appearances.
The Coyotes franchise is one shy of 500 regular-season victories since relocating from Winnipeg in 1996.
Updated February 8, 2011