Coyotes look to regroup as Stars visit

NHL Hockey
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The Arizona Coyotes fell out of the top spot in the Pacific Division with Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on the road.

Starting goaltender Antti Raanta was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 16 shots, and the Coyotes finished 0-for-5 on power plays.

They’ll try to end a two-game losing streak Sunday night at home against the Dallas Stars, in which both teams will be playing the second of back-to-back games. Arizona (21-15-4)is just 8-9-1 inside Gila River Arena this season.

“Sure, we’re not satisfied that there’s points out there that we feel we could have a few more points,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “Saying that, it’s going to get harder. There’s teams playing better now, there’s teams chasing us, it’s going to be a dogfight. So we have to realize that there’s going to be more pain than ever to get to the next level.”

Against Vegas, the decision to pull Raanta and insert Adin Hill in net for the first time this season was a move to shake things up a little, Tocchet said. Hill, who was called up with starter Darcy Kuemper injured, had 20 saves and didn’t allow a goal.

“‘Hilly’ battled really hard,” Tocchet said, adding that he had yet to decide who will start in goal Sunday against the Stars.

“It’s what you prepare for,” Hill said. “You’ve always got to be ready any time your name is called.”

The Coyotes get the next four games at home, but three are against current postseason contenders with the Stars, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers coming to the desert over the next seven days.

Conor Garland is the leader in goals for Arizona with 12, while Nick Schmaltz leads in points with 30.

Dallas (21-14-4) earned two points from a 3-2 shootout win at home against the Colorado Avalanche behind 41 saves from Ben Bishop on Saturday. The Stars had lost three of four but are in third place in the Central Division after their first game since December 22.

“It was nice to go back and hit the reset button,” Bishop told the Stars’ website. “A lot of good things by our team (Saturday). It was kind of a bend, don’t break there in the second, and we had some big kills. It’s a big win and obviously, another big one (at Arizona).”

Forward Denis Gurianov had a goal Saturday and has three in his last three games. Tyler Seguin is the Stars’ points leader at 31 after a goal Saturday, and Roope Hintz’s 12 goals lead Dallas.

Seguin has eight points (six goals and two assists) in five of his last six games at Gila River Arena. Captain Jamie Benn has five assists in his last three games against the Coyotes, and defenseman John Klingberg has scored points in five straight games against Arizona.

The Stars and Coyotes meet for the first time this season. After the game, Dallas returns home to play in the annual Winter Classic outdoors at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day.

–Field Level Media

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