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Vrbata’s OT Goal Lifts Coyotes Over Stars

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Goaltender Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars makes a save against the Phoenix Coyotes at the American Airlines Center on February 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars makes a save against the Phoenix Coyotes at the American Airlines Center on February 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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DALLAS (AP) – Radim Vrbata’s patience was rewarded, earning the Phoenix Coyotes an extra point in the tight Pacific Division standings.

Vrbata’s power-play goal at 1:13 of overtime lifted the Coyotes to a 3-2 victory over the Stars on Wednesday night, extending Dallas’ losing streak to a season-high four games.

Dallas’ Jamie Langenbrunner was penalized for tripping with 19 seconds left in regulation. Vrbata waited while Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins slid past him on a shot-blocking attempt, then Vrbata capitalized on the 4-on-3 advantage in the extra period with a wrist shot from low in the right circle.

“When the puck got to me, I saw one of their defensemen sliding in front of me so I toe-dragged it a little, got free and put it on net,” Vrbata said. “Luckily it went in.”

Michal Rozsival added a power-play goal, Mikkel Boedker scored the tying goal in the third period, and Ilya Bryzgalov made 16 saves as the Coyotes won their third in a row.

The Stars had sole possession of the division lead since November, but now they have company.

San Jose moved into a first-place tie with Dallas, both with 66 points, after the Sharks took a 3-2 decision over Columbus earlier Wednesday night.

With the two points for the victory, Phoenix has 65 points.

“Every game’s going to be important now and when you have games within your division, you look at our division and how tight it is, games within the division have an extra set of circumstances to them,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “Unfortunately, we gave them a point tonight, but we got our two, so we’ll move on.”

Brad Richards had to wait a few anxious minutes before his 22nd goal of the season was confirmed on video review, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 32 shots for Dallas.

Steve Ott also scored for the Stars, 1-5-1 in their past seven.

Phoenix dominated after the second period with a 14-4 shots advantage in the third period and overtime, but those weren’t the numbers that concerned Dallas coach Marc Crawford.

The Coyotes converted 2 of 3 power plays.

“They scored a couple of power-play goals, so we’ve got to try to limit the number of penalties we take,” Crawford said. “We only had one opportunity on the power play and when you lose that battle, that’s one you don’t like to lose. That’s one we pride ourselves on, that we don’t give other teams more opportunities on most nights to get on the power play.”

Bryzgalov was coming off two consecutive shutouts for the first time in his career, but the Stars broke that streak when Ott fired into the upper right corner of the net from low in the left circle at 10:48 of the first period.

Phoenix tied it at 1 when Rozsival tapped in a rebound at 18:22 of the opening period.

Richards’ rebound gave Dallas a 2-1 edge at 5:56 of the second period.

Teammate Nicklas Grossman took the original shot seconds after exiting the penalty box, and Grossman was pushed into Bryzgalov by a Phoenix defenseman as Richards took his shot.

The review was necessary to determine whether the puck crossed the goal line, and an inconclusive replay meant that the goal stood despite Tippett’s protests.

“I’ve been looking at the clips and the referee behind the net said he saw it conclusively in, but I don’t see that in the replays,” said Tippett, who coached the Stars for six seasons. “Those are hard plays for the referees. And the other one is, you’re supposed to allow the goaltender to make a save and their player ended up on top of our goaltender. It should have been no goal. But I thought our guys bounced back hard after that and we found a way to win.”

Richards also assisted on Ott’s goal, giving him 700 career points.

Boedker tied it at 2 at 5:37 of the third period with his first goal of the season when he converted Ray Whitney’s cross-ice pass.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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