Ed Jovanovski and Shane Doan scored power-play goals during a span of 2:21 in the second period and the Coyotes extended their season-best winning streak to seven games with a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
Coach Wayne Gretzky said that while stringing together wins is nice, his team has just reached the break-even point (20-20-2) for the first time since Phoenix was 1-1 on Oct. 7. There's plenty of work ahead if the Coyotes hope to challenge the Western Conference heavyweights.
"We have a ways to go," Gretzky said. "We dug ourselves a pretty good hole. But I'm proud of the way the guys have gotten back in the race."
Mikael Tellqvist stopped 29 shots, including all 16 he faced in the second period, to help the Coyotes wrap up a perfect five-game road trip.
"I would have bet the whole world we wouldn't have swept all five games," Coyotes centre Jeremy Roenick said. "It's totally out of the realm of amazement."
Doan's empty-net goal with 50 seconds left, his 13th of the season, closed out the Stars.
Travis Roche and Owen Nolan added goals for the Coyotes, who have collected at least a point in their last nine games (8-0-1).
"We're going to try to ride this wave as long as possible," Tellqvist said. "Nobody thought we'd be in the playoff race a couple of weeks ago."
The Coyotes have won their last six on the road.
"Our power play has given us a chance, and our goaltenders have taken the pressure off with some big saves," Doan said. "The thing is, we needed this streak to get to .500. That's how deep we were buried."
Niklas Hagman and Jere Lehtinen scored for the Stars, who had won five straight over the Coyotes, including the first four meetings this season by a combined score of 12-3.
Marty Turco, who had shut out the Coyotes twice this season, had 23 saves for the Stars.
Dallas scored the game's first goal at 10:06 of the opening period when Eric Lindros, who had been checked to the ice, passed from his knees to Hagman, who notched his eighth of the season from close range.
Phoenix tied it when Roche skated through two Dallas defenders and fired a backhander past Turco at 13:15 of the first period.
Jovanovski gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead at 9:11 of the second period, converting Yanic Perreault's goal-mouth pass for his ninth goal of the season and fifth in his last 10 games.
Doan made it 3-1 at 11:42 of the second period off a setup by Ladislav Nagy.
Dallas got within 3-2 :42 into the third period when Lehtinen pounced on a rebound for his ninth goal while the Stars skated with a two-man advantage.
But Nolan's 11th goal of the season at 15:42 of the third period pushed the Coyotes' advantage to 4-2.
"For whatever reason, we weren't emotionally engaged in the game and if you do that, you are going to be behind," an angry Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "I'm not sure how good Phoenix is right now because we didn't show much to be able to tell."
Stars centre Mike Modano missed his 17th straight game with a hip/groin injury. Modano will be out until at least after the all-star break, Tippett said Monday.
Lindros returned to the Stars lineup after missing seven games due to injured ribs.
"Getting those two power-play goals was a big difference for them," Lindros said. "We need to find ways to score and consistently do that."
Notes: Coyotes C Mike Ricci was placed on injured reserve earlier Tuesday due to recurring neck problems. The 35-year-old Ricci, a 16-year NHL veteran, had off-season neck surgery and had missed the previous 10 games while he considered retirement. Ricci, who has played in seven games for the Coyotes this season, has decided to rehab the injury. ...Tellqvist is 4-0-1 in his last five starts. ... D Nick Boynton, out six weeks because of a broken foot, is close to returning to the Phoenix lineup. ... Also out for Dallas are F Brenden Morrow (wrist) and Steve Ott (ankle), as well as G Mike Smith (slight concussion). ... Stars D Darryl Sydor missed the final two periods with what the team termed a "upper body injury."