Ribeiro Leads Stars Past Coyotes
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DALLAS (AP) – Mike Ribeiro and linemates Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson on Dallas’ No. 1 unit helped the Stars take sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division.
Ribeiro, Ryder and Eriksson accounted for all three goals and nine points for their team in regulation, then Ribeiro scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Stars a 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night.
Ribeiro had three assists, then converted in the tiebreaker’s second round to lift the Stars to the victory.
Ryder scored twice, including a second-period power-play goal. Eriksson also had a goal and had the primary assist on both of Ryder’s goals.
“Those guys (Ryder and Eriksson) are elite players,” Ribeiro said. “They can score, they can pass, they can play well defensively, they can do everything right on the ice. It’s easy to play with those guys. They’ve been scoring most of the goals of our team and once again tonight. They can do things most players cannot do.”
The teams entered the game tied atop the Pacific with 83 points.
On Ribeiro’s opportunity in the tiebreaker, Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith skated far out of his net. Ribeiro took advantage, faking Smith out of position and sliding a backhand into an open net.
“I don’t know why (Smith) came out,” Ribeiro said. “I think I’m 1-for-6 or 7 this year with the goalie in his net, so I wasn’t expecting him to come out. I was maybe expecting a poke-check, but I guess he was nervous seeing what I was coming in doing.”
Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen denied Mikkel Boedker, Ray Whitney and Shane Doan in the shootout, but the Coyotes still emerged with a point and are only one back of the Stars in the division.
“We found a way to get a point and we move on,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said.
The Stars carried a 3-1 lead into the third period, but Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s short-handed goal at 8:51 got the Coyotes within one. Ekman-Larsson beat Lehtonen from the right circle with 42 seconds left on a Dallas power play for his 12th goal of the season.
Whitney tied it at 3 at 14:58 of the third period with his 23rd of the season on a wrister from the left circle as the Coyotes converted on a power play made possible when the Stars were whistled for too many men on the ice.
While the Coyotes were pleased they were able to rally and earn a point by taking the game into overtime, they also know they can’t always depend on comebacks.
“It’s tough,” said Lauri Korpikoski, who added a goal for Phoenix. “We’ve been in that spot too many times. We’re spending too much energy chasing from behind.”
Ekman-Larsson had the best scoring chance of overtime, but was denied on Lehtonen’s diving pad save.
With the game even at 1, Dallas capitalized on its first power play of the night when Ryder converted Eriksson’s goal-mouth setup at 5:26 of the second.
Ryder later popped a loose puck past Smith at 14:42 of the second period during a scramble in front of the net to give his team a two-goal edge, Ryder’s career-high 32nd of the season.
Lehtonen made 27 saves for the Stars, who’d lost their previous two games following a 10-0-1 run that had moved them into the division lead.
Smith stopped 30 shots for the Coyotes, who wrapped up a 2-1-1 road trip and are 3-5-3 in their past 11 games.
Eriksson opened the scoring at 2:12 of the first period with his 26th goal of the season with a snap shot from the right circle that whistled into the upper right corner of the net.
Korpikoski tied it at 1 at 5:14 of the first period with his 16th of the season, beating Lehtonen with a one-timer from the high slot after a pass from Whitney.
Things got heated at 5:54 of the second period after Doan elbowed Stars No. 2 scorer Jamie Benn in the head.
Benn was stunned, but stayed in the game. Three skirmishes ensued, resulting in 64 penalty minutes and four misconducts, with
Doan receiving a elbowing minor that put Dallas on the power play.
Now the league must decide if Doan’s elbow was suspension-worthy.
“I think it’s a suspendable offense,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “He targeted the head with his elbow. The league will look at it for sure and then they’ll decide, but it’s deliberate.”
The teams split the six-game season series that concluded on Tuesday.
Notes: Ryder’s previous career high was 30 goals. … D Sheldon Souray was back for the Stars after missing four games with a lower body injury and forward Radek Dvorak returned after a three-game absence with an ankle problem. … RW Radim Vrbata (illness), LW Taylor Pyatt (upper body), C Kyle Chipchura (wrist) and D Adrian Aucoin (lower body) were out for Phoenix. Vrbata, who leads the Coyotes with 30 goals, is day to day.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)