The Phoenix Coyotes knew that the Dallas Stars were desperate. With losses by Nashville and Chicago earlier on Tuesday night, the Stars knew that two points would have put them in a position of relative power, and that gave them any extra motivation they could have used.
Unfortunately for them, Ilya Bryzgalov had other plans. The Coyotes netminder proved further why he's perhaps the most valued member of the team, making an incredible 44 saves to help Phoenix top Dallas, 2-1, in a shootout. The Stars literally gave everything they had and still wound up on the short end of the stick.
SB Nation's Defending Big D isn't crushed, however, since the Stars still got one point and are still in the race.
I felt crushed as a Stars fan after the loss in Nashville. I don't as much tonight. The Stars played a very good road game overall and while maybe wen't as aggressive going after the win as I think they should have been, they did show me that they aren't rolling over.
The Coyotes sit two points back of the Pacific-leading Sharks following the win, while the Stars remain three points back of eighth-place in the West.
Elsewhere in the NHL...
Canucks 3, Predators 1: Nashville's six-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of Vancouver, who clinched the top-seed in the Western Conference and moved closer to claiming the President's Trophy as the NHL's best regular season club.
Leafs 4, Sabres 3: Toronto blew two different two-goal leads, but Buffalo couldn't take full advantage on Tuesday night. Mikhail Grabovski's 29th goal with less than seven minutes remaining in the third was enough to give the Leafs the victory, pulling them within five points of the eighth-place Sabres. Too little, too late?
Kings 2, Oilers 0: No Anze Kopitar? No Justin Williams? No problem. Los Angeles got two goals from Dustin Brown to add two more points to their name, adding a bit more volume to the bottleneck in the Pacific Division.
Hurricanes 3, Capitals 2 (SO): Alex Ovechkin returned to the lineup for Washington, but even he couldn't beat Cam Ward in this one. The Carolina goaltender made 38 saves, plus two in the shootout, to help his team earn two vital points in the standings. With Buffalo's loss, the Hurricanes only sit three points back of eighth with six games to play.
Wild 3, Blues 2 (SO): Just going through the motions, now. Nothing to see here.
Canadiens 3, Thrashers 1: Montreal ended a nearly-200 minute scoreless drought in the first period and rode that wave to a 3-1 win over Atlanta. While their recent rough patch has put the Northeast title all but off the map, the two points earned on Tuesday do give the Habs a bit of space ahead of seventh-place New York.
Blue Jackets 3, Panthers 2 (SO): Columbus snapped a six-game home losing skid and Florida slipped even further down the Eastern Conference standings. They're now just two points ahead of last-place Ottawa.
Lightning 5, Senators 2: They didn't clinch a playoff berth like they could have, thanks to a win by the Carolina Hurricanes, but that won't stop Tampa Bay from accepting a big win. Martin St. Louis and Dominic Moore each scored two goals for the Lightning, who have won back-to-back games for the first time since a four-game losing streak threatened their hold on fifth-place in the East.