GLENDALE, Ariz. - Johan Holmqvist made the most of a rare start.
Holmqvist made 21 saves in his second appearance in six weeks and Brenden Morrow added a goal and an assist to lead the Dallas Stars past Phoenix 4-2 Thursday night in the Coyotes' home finale. "I felt pretty good out there," said Holmqvist, who was making his first appearance since March 15. "It's been a while since I played but it didn't really feel like that."
Holmqvist was the top goaltender in Tampa Bay before he was traded to Dallas in a deadline deal. In his only other appearance, Holmqvist allowed three goals in 12 shots in one period.
"Obviously this was better than my first period here," Holmqvist said. "I know I can play. You want to have that rhythm and that momentum but you get that when you play."
Matt Niskanen, Stephane Robidas and Mike Modano also scored for the Stars, who won for just the third time in 12 games (3-7-2) and secured no worse than fifth place in the Western Conference standings.
Dallas will face fourth-place Anaheim in the first round of the playoffs, though the Stars still can pass the Ducks to claim home ice.
"You've got to be careful what you wish for," Morrow said. "All of these teams are tough and we're going to have to go through them sometime."
Enver Lisin and Keith Ballard scored for the Coyotes, who lost for the eighth time in nine games (1-7-1).
"We physically skated into a wall about 15 games ago," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "It was partly because of youth, I think, and partly because for 45 games every game we played seemed like playoff game. You can't play like that."
After a scoreless first period, Dallas scored three goals in the second.
Niskanen gave the Stars a 1-0 lead when he one-timed a pass from Philippe Boucher past Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov at 5:22 of the second.
Robidas made it 2-0, also on a one-timer off a pass from Joel Lundqvist, at 13:03 of the period. Morrow then stole the puck from Ballard in the Phoenix zone and beat Bryzgalov at 19:00 of the period.
"The second period was something we were disappointed in," Coyotes left wing Shane Doan said. "As a group you never want to end the season like that."
Phoenix rallied late in the third period. Lisin scored on a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle with 6:09 left to end Holmqvist's shutout bid. Ballard cut the lead to 3-2 with 3:01 to go, scoring from between the circles for a short-handed goal.
"I thought we worked hard for the most part," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "At the end it got a little scrambly but we did enough to win."
Gretzky pulled Bryzgalov for an extra attacker with 1:21 remaining, but Modano intercepted a pass from Phoenix defenceman Ed Jovanovski and scored into the empty net.
Notes: The Coyotes finished 17-20-4 at home, one of just three teams with a losing record on home ice. "We weren't good enough at home on a continuous basis," Gretzky said. ... Boucher's assist was the 200th of his career. ... The Stars have outscored their opponents by 40 goals in the second period, the best mark in the league. ... Phoenix left wing Daniel Carcillo got into two third-period fights to raise his league-leading penalty minute total to 320 in just 55 games. In the first, Carcillo dropped Stars left wing Krystofer Barch with one punch. ... Dallas finished 22-14-5 on the road, tied for the fourth-best mark in franchise history. ... Coyotes centre Kyle Turris, who had 11 goals in 36 games for the University of Wisconsin this season, made his NHL debut and earned a 2-minute minor for delay of game.