GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – A win wasn’t going to help the Phoenix Coyotes. The playoffs were already out of reach and there was nothing to gain.
But as they went into their final game of the season, the Coyotes faced a must-win — for their peace of mind heading into the off-season. What had been dubbed “That stupid streak” had to end.
Dave Moss scored late in the third period, Thomas Greiss stopped 16 shots, and the Coyotes snapped a seven-game skid with a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday night in the season finale for both teams.
“That’s something we talked about: That stupid streak, someone has to end it,” Moss said. “We were able to get a win, which is a good way to end, but ultimately it’s not where we want to be.”
Knocked out of playoff contention on Friday, the Coyotes wanted desperately to break the season-worst losing streak. Shane Doan scored, Greiss gave them a chance with some difficult saves, and Moss finished it with a one-timer past Tim Thomas with 2:31 left.
The Coyotes finished two points behind Dallas for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but at least they went out on a winning note. It would have been an awfully long summer had they not.
“It was important for us,” Doan said. “It’s obviously the way it ends with the streak, it’s good to win one. We had to win one.”
Dallas, already locked into a first-round playoff series with Anaheim, rested many of its key players for the finale. The Stars kept it close behind Colton Sceviour’s first-period goal and 29 saves by Thomas, but couldn’t get anything past Greiss with an extra attacker in the closing seconds.
“I still slammed a water bottle there at the end,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “You still don’t want to lose. I didn’t want to lose that game. The only bitter taste was the end of the game.”
The Coyotes had hoped this season finale would put a stamp on their playoff bid.
Instead, it turned into a play-out-the-string game that mattered little to either team.
The Stars gave Phoenix every opportunity to take the Western Conference’s final playoff spot, yet the Coyotes were unable to make up any ground, thanks to a six-game losing streak.
Dallas clinched their first playoff appearance since 2008 by beating Colorado on Friday, and Phoenix still couldn’t shake its doldrums against depleted San Jose on Saturday, losing to the Sharks 3-2.
The Stars will open the playoffs on Wednesday, so captain Jamie Benn and assistant captains Trevor Daley and Ray Whitney were all given the night off against Phoenix.
Like they did on Saturday, the Coyotes got off to a lackadaisical start and fell behind when Sceviour got Greiss off-balance with a couple of dekes and scored on a power play after a nifty backhand pass from Vernon Fiddler.
Phoenix generated some good chances in the second period, and Doan broke through with his 23rd goal, redirecting a shot from the point by Zbynek Michalek past Thomas.
In the third period, Greiss made consecutive saves on Tyler Seguin, including one on a rebound after sliding across the crease and nearly doing the splits.
Moss put the Coyotes up late, and Greiss made some difficult saves in the closing seconds after Dallas pulled Thomas.
The Stars lost, but they had bigger things on their minds.
“It’s kind of hard to do it when you’re excited for the playoffs,” Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski said. “But for the most part, we played well enough to stay in the game until late.”
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