DALLAS - With some timely offense and strong play in goal Wednesday night, the Phoenix Coyotes are still in the postseason hunt. Ilya Bryzgalov made 20 saves, and Peter Mueller and Shane Doan each scored goals to lead the Coyotes past the Dallas Stars 2-1.
Bryzgalov came in with a 1.30 goals-against average in his last four games, and his play has kept Phoenix afloat while its offense has struggled.
he Coyotes have scored just 10 goals in their past seven games, yet have gone 3-3-1 during that span. Bryzgalov preserved the win in the final seconds by turning away a shot by Jere Lehtinen near the net.
“Our goaltending has to be strong if we’re going to make the playoffs,” Doan said. “Bryzgalov has given us a chance. Our goaltending has been strong all year. That’s why we’re in this position.”
Phoenix, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002, crept within three points of Nashville and Vancouver for eighth place in the Western Conference.
“We’ve got our work cut out,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. “There’s a tough haul ahead. But the light at the end of the tunnel is strong. Nothing will be given to anyone.”
Brad Winchester scored his first goal of the season to bring the Stars within 2-1 late in the second period.
The Stars have lost two in a row after winning 13 of 15. They lost consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 22 and 24. Marty Turco made 15 saves, but lost for the third time this season to Phoenix.
“The last two games have been frustrating,” Dallas captain Brenden Morrow said. “We haven’t had the intensity to win these hard hockey games.”
Bryzgalov and the Coyotes special teams added to the Stars’ frustration level. Bryzgalov has stopped 144 of the last 150 shots he’s seen.
Dallas had a chance to strike early, but couldn’t cash in on a pair of power-play attempts in the game’s first five minutes.
“The key was when we killed those two penalties in the first period,” Bryzgalov said. “That gave us a boost and we kept it going.”
The Coyotes took only 17 shots after also attempting just 17 in a loss to Calgary Saturday. But Phoenix capitalized early on some scoring chances.
Joel Perrault picked up a loose puck behind the net and hit a cutting Mueller in front of the net. Mueller’s 20th goal put the Coyotes on top 1-0 at 9:26 of the first.
Doan extended the lead with his 20th goal, assisted by Radim Vrbata and Ed Jovanovski, giving Phoenix a 2-0 lead 59 seconds into the second.
Winchester scored on a rebound off Toby Petersen’s shot at 17:38 of the second, his first goal since Dec. 6, 2006, when he was with Edmonton.
“It feels good,” Winchester said. “I want to contribute to the overall success of our club.”